J. The Jewish News of Northern California published a duo of damning articles this evening outlining President Wong’s rocky history with the Jewish community on campus.
The publication, which covers a range of topics that pertain to the Northern California Jewish community, published a news story alongside an op-ed focused on the campus climate concerning Jewish students.
The op-ed written by J.’s editorial board, called the campus climate “disturbing” and something that “cannot be minimized,” claiming that Jewish students have faced abuse while anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist groups have been “coddled.”
J.’s complementing news story dives into the chronology of tense incidents between the University and the Jewish community, pointing out that the problem is decades-long and increasingly growing worse.
The article cited an email to Wong from members of San Francisco Hillel, dated April 12, that stated the group can no longer defend charges of anti-semitism against the University.
The publication reported it has obtained dozens of documents that show Wong resents the amount of time Jewish concerns have taken up, but that he is still sympathetic to them.
J.’s article and Hillel’s email both shine a light on recent events that suggest Wong’s lack of action involving incidents that concern Jewish students.
In April 2016, members of the General Union of Palestinian Students and other student organizations drowned out Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat’s speech to SF State students, ultimately causing a disruption he could not speak over.
Though no protestor faced disciplinary action, Wong ordered an investigation into the incident and later implemented a new protocol for future protests on campus.
Wong then invited Barkat back to speak on campus in March, nearly a year after the first incident. Barkat decided to cancel the speech one day before its scheduled date, writing in an open letter that the University “…did not offer the lecture that would provide the kind of healing needed after the assault on free speech last year. By failing to provide the necessary public forum and properly publicize my lecture, the University has contributed to the continuing marginalization and demonization of the Jewish state.”
J. also reported that SF State Jewish studies professors and Hillel claim their organization was purposely excluded from an informational human rights fair called “Know Your Rights” by the event organizers through a last-minute change to the cut-off date for registration. The University is currently investigating the incident, and Hillel said in their email to Wong they had not received any comment from him regarding the incident.
J. reported that Wong said in an interview he thinks all students need to “get tougher.”
“Where’s the resilience?” Wong asked rhetorically, according to J. “I think part of education is preparing your brain, so you own it yourself. To be able to stand up with that voice to power, to be able to say ‘I understand what you’re saying but I think you’re flat-out wrong,’ it makes for a better person.”
Still, the articles by J. paint a picture where the Jewish community on campus feels they have been ignored by the University’s administration.
“Because of the hostile climate on SFSU’s campus, we are forced to pick sides and hide who we are,” Hillel members wrote in their email to Wong.
President Wong, GUPS, and Hillel were not available for comment at the time of publication.