Monday, December 19, 2016

UCI's Op-Ed in WSJ: A Serious Misstatement of Fact

Image result for erwin chemerinsky                                   Image result for howard gillman uci
Erwin Chemerinsky                                                                       Howard Gillman

Two days ago, I responded to an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by UC Irvine's Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinksy and Chancellor Howard Gillman voicing their opposition to the Senate Anti-Semitism Awareness Act.

Below is a copy of the Dept. of Education Office of Civil Rights letter to UC Irvine dated August 19, 2013 in which they closed their investigation into complaints of a hostile environment for Jewish students at UCI.

You will note that DOE responded to 9 specific allegations made against UCI, which DOE rejected. Specifically, DOE rejected 5 of the 9 complaints because the complainants could not prove that they were singled out because of national origin.  Since none of the Jewish students making the complaints were Israeli, their complaints were rejected in those 5 instances, a point I have already made.

But here is the point: Going back to the WSJ op-ed, Chemerinsky and Gillman made the following statements:

"But in recent years, the office has launched civil rights investigations not because of discriminatory activity, but solely based on the ideas being expressed."

"Still it was deeply troubling that the school could be considered in violation of federal law simply because it permitted anti-Israel protests on campus."

False on both counts. The DOE/OCR investigation was launched because of specific incidents against Jewish students on campus as outlined in the specific complaints alleged. It is not solely because of ideas being expressed by (anti-Israel students), or simply because UCI permitted anti-Israel protests on campus, rather because certain individuals (almost all Jewish students) had alleged specific incidents and abuse directed at them.

It should also be noted the DOE/OCR conducted an earlier investigation of UCI from 2004-2007 based on similar allegations by Jewish students. Five of the allegations were rejected as having been made in an untimely manner while other allegations were dismissed based on failure to show discrimination based on national origin or because it was deemed that UCI had responded to the complaints by students in an appropriate and timely manner. Charles R Love, Regional Program Manager of the (DOE) OCR, Region  IX sent a letter to UCI Chancellor Michael V Drake dated November 30, 2007 reporting their findings. Again, several of the complaints concerned abuse allegedly suffered by Jewish students as opposed to simply anti-Israel expressions by certain students or anti-Israel protests held at UCI. Though I have been sent and reviewed a pdf copy of the letter, I am still attempting to find a copy that I can post on this site. The below link does not come up.

However, Kenneth Marcus, who previously served as head of  DOE/OCR, has written extensively about the background of the 2004-2007 investigation.

Finally, here is the report of the Orange County Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism, which also investigated the 2007 allegations and interviewed several students, issued after the 2007 investigation.

Problems of anti-Semitism continue to exist not only at UCI, but other UC campuses as well as campuses across the US. The OCR did not disprove the allegations but rejected them for the reasons outlined above. It is bad enough that UCI has refused to confront the issue for all these years. To misstate the facts as Chemerinsky and Gillman have done is inexcusable.

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