San Francisco State University Hit by Lawsuit Brought by Students, Community Members Alleging ‘Anti-Jewish Animus’
San Francisco State University (SFSU) was hit by a lawsuit on Monday brought by students and local community members accusing the school of “an extremely disturbing and consistent pattern of anti-Jewish animus.”
Claiming that SFSU has allowed a “hostile environment” toward Jews since at least 1968, when the social justice-focused College of Ethnic Studies was established, the plaintiffs said that the situation “has only gotten worse over time” and that “SFSU and its administrators have knowingly fostered this.”
The plaintiffs include two current students, one recent graduate and three members of the local Jewish community, represented in part by attorneys from the Lawfare Project, a pro-Israel legal think tank.
All of the plaintiffs attended the April 2016 lecture by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, which was dramatically disrupted by students, including members of the SFSU student group General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), who allegedly made “incessant threats and amplified chants,” including shouting, “Get the f*** off our campus!” and “Intifada!”
Nearly a year later, Barkat backed out of a hastily scheduled lecture at the campus — supposedly meant to make up for the previous spring’s disaster — saying that the school had treated him with disrespect in its disorganized planning of the program.
In the suit, SFSU President Leslie Wong was repeatedly called out for his treatment of the Jewish student community, including his continuous support for GUPS, like his April 2015 comments of “personal congratulations to the student leadership of GUPS” at a gathering of the group. Wong said GUPS had “helped me when I have to tell other community groups to mind their own business. GUPS is the very purpose of this great university.”
Wong made these remarks soon after GUPS members and its then-president were found to be threatening Jews on campus online and in person.
Other examples of the “racially hostile” SFSU culture brought by the plaintiffs include Hillel being allegedly “intentionally and surreptitiously barred” from a campus fair earlier this year, and the highly controversial ongoing memorandum of understanding that SFSU has shared with the Palestinian An-Najah National University since 2014.
The plaintiffs claim SFSU has allowed a “dangerous assault on First Amendment rights” to take place.
“Jews are at best ignored, but more often ostracized in every corner of the university community,” the plaintiffs wrote. “While other groups are able to host events, obtain permits and participate in ‘tabling’ at student fairs, Jewish groups are customarily forced to fight for these basic rights as tuition-paying students, no matter how hard they work to follow processes correctly and avoid controversy.”
The plaintiffs also noted that SFSU was placed #10 on The Algemeiner‘s 2016 list of “Worst Colleges for Jewish Students.”