California Scholars for Academic Freedom

Letter to SFSU President Les Wong about Islamophobic fliers and posters on campus Wed. 4 May



May 11, 2017

President Les Wong

San Francisco State University

San Francisco, CA

Dear President Wong,


The California Scholars for Academic Freedom, a group of over 200 scholars**, writes to you with great alarm and concern over a new wave of Islamophobic, racist, and hate speech incited against Palestinian advocates by fliers and posters posted on your campus on Wednesday May 4. These hateful writings are explicitly directed against Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace.  They are incendiary, dangerous, and create a climate of fear for the entire campus community.

Like their predecessors, these fliers and posters are part of well-funded, orchestrated national campaigns to bully and intimidate in order to silence debate about a range of complex issues, including but not limited to Israel and Palestine. They have all been produced by the so-called Horowitz Freedom Center. This is the same group that plastered posters vilifying SFSU faculty member Dr. Rabab Abdulhadi and SFSU Palestinian students and activists last semester. Its members used the same tactics on other CSU campuses, including San Diego State. They have made targeted students and faculty vulnerable to more attacks, and have created an unsafe work and study environment for them.

Using freedom of speech as defense in this case is highly problematic, if not outright false. True freedom of speech does not mean impunity for racists and Islamophobes who threaten individual faculty and students, and incite violence against them. Just as the university would not have tolerated anti-Semitic attacks against faculty and student groups on campus, the same must apply to Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim members of its community.

We call on you and your administration to take a swift and firm stance against such bigotry.

We urge you, President Wong and SFSU leadership as well as CSU Chancellor Timothy White and the trustees of CSU to show genuine interest in protecting the faculty and students on CSU campuses and take legal action against these groups.

Signed on behalf of California Scholars for Academic Freedom,

Lisa Rofel

Professor of Anthropology

University of California, Santa Cruz

Manzar Foroohar

Professor of History

Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

cc: Chancellor Timothy White

Provost Jennifer Summit

Dean Kenneth P. Monteiro

SFSU Senate Chair Troi Carleton

CSU Statewide Academic Senate Chair Christine Miller

CSU Statewide Faculty Affairs Committee Chair Thomas Norman

President, California Faculty Association Jennifer Eagan

**CALIFORNIA SCHOLARS FOR ACADEMIC FREEDOM (cs4af) is a group of scholars who defend academic freedom, the right of shared governance, and the First Amendment rights of faculty and students in the academy and beyond. We recognize that violations of academic freedom anywhere are threats to academic freedom everywhere. California Scholars for Academic Freedom investigates legislative and administrative infringements on freedom of speech and assembly, and it raises the consciousness of politicians, university regents and administrators, faculty, students and the public at large through open letters, press releases, petitions, statements, and articles.



May 12, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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