Message from President Wong to SF State Community
Dear SF State Community,
I met Thursday afternoon with members of the SF State Hillel student community and personally apologized for past comments and actions that were deeply hurtful to them and many other members of the Jewish community. During our meeting, I reaffirmed my support for our Jewish students, faculty and staff and pledged, as another step toward reconciliation, to follow up with a public written apology, which is included below:
Words are powerful. The last couple of years have been difficult for our Jewish students, faculty, staff and community. As a University president, I’ve become especially sensitive to the content, context and responsibility of all my comments. I take that responsibility seriously, as a grandfather, father, husband, teacher, leader and student. I make every effort to own my own mind and own my own words.
Responsibility must be mirrored by accountability. I want to publicly acknowledge when that ownership of thought and language impinges on the University’s ability to live up to its ideals. It is the responsibility of leadership to also acknowledge when those words are hurtful.
My comments about Zionists and whether or not they are welcomed at San Francisco State University caused a lot of anguish and deeply hurt feelings. I am responsible for those words and, after study and reflection, I have come to understand how flawed my comments were.
Thus, I want to sincerely apologize for the hurt feelings and anguish my words have caused. Let me be clear: Zionists are welcome on our campus.
I know this apology alone may not be enough. But I am committed to a new course of dialogue and actions to ensure that my own awareness and learning will move this great university forward. Admitting fault and desiring a path forward based upon mutual respect motivates me. Making peace is hard work. And hard work has long inspired me. I hope you will join me.
Dr. Leslie E. Wong
San Francisco State University