The University has introduced new and more effective protocol for dealing with protests after a heavily criticized handling of a visit by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat.
“We failed our students,” President Leslie E. Wong said in a statement released about a five-step protocol that will be used for future events.
The controversial protest, led by members of the General Union of Palestine Students, resulted in a complicated investigation. According to the report, University Police Chief Reginald Parson said he wished he had received more support from Student Affairs in dealing with the protesters.
“We are usually a team and one united voice,” Parson said in the report. “I felt that at some point in time earlier when it started, they should have engaged the leaders of the GUPS group about civil discourse and time, place, and manner.”
The protesters faced punishment for their use of amplified sound, but the report mentioned instances when amplified sound has been used by protesters who went unpunished in the past.
In one instance, protesters, who went unnamed, demonstrated next to the Republican Student Union’s table in Malcolm X Plaza and played the song “FDT (Fuck Donald Trump)” by YG and Nipsey Hussle over an amplified loudspeaker. Peter Sobrino, vice president of Young Americans for Liberty, said he believed the music limited RSU’s freedom of speech.
Wong supported the five-step protocol and said “the report offers a thorough and fair critique. It makes exceptionally clear that the responsibility for the inadequate response prior to, during and following the event falls squarely on the shoulders of San Francisco State University administrators.”
The report received mixed reviews from GUPS and SF Hillel.
GUPS released a statement online about the investigation that read “the report highlighted that Hillel-affiliated students felt hurt by our protest, but it failed to include that we, as Palestinians who are targeted by the Mayor’s policies, felt erased by the Mayor’s presence.”
The statement continued, saying “not only were we subjected to this hate monger, but we were investigated for months and publicly smeared as violent and anti-Semitic.”
GUPS refused a request for an interview, stating they needed time to discuss the report as a group.
Oliver Benn, executive director of SF Hillel thinks everyone has the right to protest, but civil discourse is more productive.
“I think there is a cultural problem at SF State where we have to decide whether we want to have civil discourse and listen to the views of people we don’t necessarily agree with,” Benn said.
Benn regretted that students from SF Hillel who are not in support of Israel were unable to ask questions or challenge the mayor because of the protest.
Benn said “not all Jews support Israel.”
The report cited a student who shared this point of view.
“As a Jewish community member, I came with my little challenging questions [about the Mayor’s policies towards Palestinians,]” the report read. “The second they were protesting they put me in my tribal stance and suddenly I was supporting the Mayor.”
With the new protocols in place, Wong hopes to create a safe campus environment for all students.
“We will continue to monitor the campus climate, and we will make every effort to respond to student concerns in a timely fashion,” Wong said. “We will work to build trust with our students and the broader community so that we can fully embody our institutional mission and our values.”