The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

Religious holiday list incites rally, demands for apology

James Chan
Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas studies profes- sor Rabab Abdulhadi has her mouth covered in tape labelled “SILENCED” at a demonstration in the quad in front of the Administration Building at SF State on Feb. 13, 2019. JAMES CHAN/ Golden Gate Xpress

Students and community members called for a public apology at a campus rally Feb. 13, after administration recognized Israel Indepen-
dence Day as a religious holiday.

In an email response to Xpress, SF State spokesperson Mary Kenny confirmed that a memo was sent out to faculty that contained a polit-
ical holiday listed as a religious one.

“We sincerely regret the hurt that the oversight of certain religious holidays and observances from that memo caused,” Kenny said in an
email. “It was not our intention. We are updating the memo and notifying the appropriate faculty, staff and students.”

On Monday, Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jennifer Summit issued a correction to all department chairpersons and
directors stating that Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr are now included in the list of religious holidays as of press time Monday.

But a public apology to all faculty, students and staff has not been issued.

At the rally, members of the General Union of Palestine Students, the League of Filipino Students and Jews Against Zionism gathered in the rain to hold signs and occupy the area between the J. Paul Leonard Library and the Administration Building.

Student groups held signs and chanted in unison, “Free Palestine,” “Zionism has got to go” and “Stop the attacks. Stop the hate. You’re supporting an apartheid state.”

During the rally, Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas studies professor Rabab Abdulhadi read the email she sent to administration, which echoed the sentiments expressed by students and faculty.

Abdulhadi urged interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jennifer Summit to issue an apology, include Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr to the list of observance and remove Israeli Independence Day.

“Last week, we found out SFSU has considered Israeli Independence Day as a ‘religious holiday’ for Judaism, which is an insult to Jewish people and Palestinians who have been displaced, and anyone who supports justice,” Abdulhadi said.

She said Summit’s response that it was a clerical error is unacceptable for a public institution like SF State.

Jaime Veve, who attended the rally, said the inclusion of Israeli Independence Day as a religious holiday at a public institution is an insult to all people on campus who are from Muslim countries.

Veve said that Israel Independence Day is the opposite of independence for Palestinians.  He said it marks the removal and dispersal of people from Palestine.

“It’s the equivalent of including the Fourth of July to the list of religious holidays,” Veve said.

In the email Abdulhadi shared with Xpress, Ken Monteiro, the former dean of the College of Ethnic Studies, described the lack of recog-
nized Muslim holidays as “stark omissions.”

In a response to Summit, Monteiro said he supports Abdulhadi’s criticism of including Israeli Independence Day to the list and that SF State needs to do better in the future.

Summit agreed with Monteiro and said that it was a clerical error.

The Provost’s Office, according to Summit, curated its list from Wellesley College’s website, which contains Israeli Independence Day.

“I’ll admit that I did not review the list carefully before sending it out,” Summit said.

Abdulhadi’s email to Summit also demanded administrators undergo civil rights and sensitivity training by a third party, a transparent and open investigation into incidents of discrimination and the restoration of funding and faculty support for AMED studies.

Abdulhadi also urged SF State follow through with her California Public Records Act requests.

“I am not a lawyer but a faculty member whose rights have been violated to punish me for speaking up and exercising my freedom of speech,” Abdulhadi wrote. “Thus, I am directly affected as a person and also as AMED director and as a member of our communities of justice.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor

Comments (0)

All Golden Gate Xpress Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
The Student News Site of San Francisco State University
Religious holiday list incites rally, demands for apology