San Francisco State University Statement Disputing Lawsuit; Affirming Commitment to Continued Comprehensive Action to Ensure a Safe and Welcoming Campus for Jewish Students


The University, and its community of 35,000 students, faculty and staff, strives to cultivate a safe and welcoming environment where all members of our community can engage in the free expression of ideas and viewpoints without infringing on the academic opportunities and rights of others.

We condemn all forms of hate and anti-Semitism, and will continue to work tirelessly to protect the rights of all campus community members. The disruption of the event featuring Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in spring 2016 and bias incidents that were reported this year were ugly reminders that anti-Semitism, like all forms of discrimination, is real and our community has work to do. 

That said, the University strongly disagrees with the allegations in the complaint filed yesterday. Instances of intolerance or anti-Semitism are neither promoted nor tolerated at SF State by the president or by administrators. San Francisco State University is deeply committed to the elimination of anti-Semitism in our community and to fostering a safe and welcoming campus for our Jewish students. When such instances are brought to the attention of administrators, they are investigated impartially and action is taken in accordance with resulting findings.

Lawsuits seeking to force SF State to both protect free speech and assure diversity and inclusion are unnecessary and redundant. SF State remains committed to furthering free speech and defeating discrimination, including anti-Semitism. Rather than litigation, we welcome the plaintiffs, and any other organizations similarly committed to these ideals, to join us in pursuing that objective.

We urge those who are concerned with issues related to anti-Semitism to focus on the substantive actions in which the University is and has been engaged to improve the campus environment for all students, and specifically our Jewish students.

Actions completed or underway include: 

  • Training for staff, new students, student groups, University Police and others across the University.
  • Implementation of a five-point protocol for managing protests and disruptions to assure the exercise of protected free speech for all.
  • Creation of a President’s Task Force on Campus Climate.
  • Creation of a new senior position to ensure student protections, the Assistant Vice President for Equity and Community Inclusion.
  • Update to the campus free speech policy to, among other things, include a new section addressing handbill posting requirements on campus by both internal and external groups.
  • A comprehensive and substantive investigation into the alleged exclusion of Hillel students from the Know Your Rights Fair this spring.
  • Development of a series of community conversations led by faculty to foster dialogue and explore issues of campus climate.
  • Adoption of a Principles of Community statement, grounded in the University’s strategic plan, that includes a clear and public statement of principles against intolerance.

We invite all our students and our community, and specifically our Jewish students and community, to join us in these substantive and proactive measures. We will pursue these actions regardless of any legal challenge or distraction, with the expectation and goal of offering an inclusive and welcoming environment for all our students. Should there be any doubt as to the commitment to this goal, we invite you to read the recent statement on the topic by President Wong – a statement that predates our knowledge of this lawsuit.