An Open Letter to the Chancellor of UC Irvine
Dear Chancellor Gillman,
My name is Jeff Astrof and I am a television writer/producer in Hollywood — well, technically Burbank — and while very little shocks me anymore in terms of what is happening on college campuses, I was floored when I read that UCI was suspending its College Republican club.
Now, it is needless to say that as a sitcom writer (having written on many shows over the last quarter century, including Friends and a pilot that recently got picked up by NBC) I am duty-bound to be a Democrat. So the thought that whatever few College Republicans there are won’t get a fair shake is not in itself a “game changer” for me. However, when it is put into the context of the toxic environment facing young people today on college campuses, especially by radical groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine — who have completely hijacked the conversation about Israel and the Mideast and have literally threatened those who don’t see eye to eye with its extremist views, and whose actions wouldn’t be tolerated if not directed at Jews — well, that’s where the alarm bells go off.
As a father of a teenage girl who will be looking at colleges in two years, my thoughts have switched from “where will she get the best education?” to “where will she be safe?” And not only physically, but psychologically. Sadly, much of the UC system has failed in its responsibility to provide a safe environment for any “pro-Israel” student, and UC Irvine stands out as probably the most hostile campus for Jews, especially given the anemic reaction that the administration had to the Muslim Student Union and SJP shutting down the benign pro-IDF film, “Beneath the Helmet,” where police were brought in to escort out the people viewing the film and not the protesters!
I can’t imagine your job is easy, dealing with vocal minority groups that scream “Injustice!” and “Apartheid” even though these groups have been affiliated with terrorist organizations themselves. Most colleges have abdicated their moral responsibility in the face of political correctness, and it is the future generations that will suffer. And while sadly, UCI may be beyond repair — personally I’m not sure why any Jewish person would send their kids there at this point — it should still be a place where basic freedoms are upheld, or at least the playing field is leveled.
If the College Republicans deserve to be suspended because they didn’t get a permit for an event, well then by all means, they should be suspended so that the rule of law is upheld. But if it is just another shameful quieting of dissenting voices done out of fear, well then we are even worse off than I feared.
As a writer/producer, I rely on freedom of expression to have my views heard. It is our most profound right as American citizens, and the university system is the firewall against its collapse. It is up to you as Chancellor not only to do the right thing, but to do what you were hired to do as part of an academic institution in the most creative state in the most creative country in the world.
This letter was originally published here by The Israel Group.