SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — University of California students and faculty are criticizing a report to fight anti-Semitism that recommends the schools consider bans on hate speech and campus sponsorship of protests against Israel.
More than 2,200 students, faculty and alumni signed a petition asking UC President Mark Yudof to disregard the report, commissioned in response to turmoil over campus discrimination.
"We believe in the principles of free speech and that these principles stand on their own and do not require any additional regulation," the petition says.
In a letter to students on Wednesday, Yudof said restricting speech is not the solution to anti-Semitism.
The contentious recommendations came from a UC fact-finding team tasked with understanding Jewish student experiences following accusations of anti-Semitism on UC campuses, including the appearance of swastikas and harassment of Jewish students during pro-Palestinian demonstrations. The report is part of a wider effort to confront discrimination on UC campuses, such as the hanging of a noose in a library and defacement of a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender resource office.
"What we have witnessed in recent weeks are quite simply the worst acts of racism and intolerance I've seen on college campuses in 20 years," Yudof said in 2010, before starting a council to address the problem.
Richard Barton, an official from the Anti-Defamation League and a report author, told the San Francisco Chronicle that hostility toward Jewish students created by anti-Israel movements amounted to "allowing the Klan to walk around campuses and say things about black people."
The report also recommended schools define anti-Semitism and develop ways to sanction it, while offering cultural competency training. The authors encouraged the schools to implement a ban on hate speech, despite potential legal challenges.
The critics, many of whom are Jewish, said it wrongly equates criticism of Israel to anti-Semitism and its recommendations would have a chilling effect on free speech.