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June 21, 2002

Plan includes Fall 2002 "The Semester on Constructive Civil Discourse," a fall retreat for SFSU student leaders on the theme of improving the campus climate, and sanctions against GUPS and a letter of warning to Hillel

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- June 21, 2001 -- San Francisco State University President Robert A. Corrigan today announced a university-wide, comprehensive plan that includes both short- and long-term responses to the issues of campus climate, free speech, hate speech, and civility that came to the fore at a May 7 pro-Israel campus rally.

The University's actions include creation of the President's Task Force on Inter-Group Relations: Initial Focus on the Effect of Middle East Issues on Campus Life, a campus-community group that will make its first recommendations by August 1; development of academic programs and special events for a semester devoted to civil discourse; a major retreat for student leaders early in the semester, and the resolution of student discipline issues involving the two student groups involved in the rally.

"We are using all our resources as a university to make the recent tensions, which echo so painfully the whole Middle East situation, an occasion for learning and growth," said President Corrigan. "We believe firmly that the skills and habits of open, yet civil, dissent can be modeled and taught. I can think of no more critical work for us to do."

The University's responses include:

  • Establishment of the President's Task Force on Inter-Group Relations: Initial Focus on the Effect of Middle East Issues on Campus Life. This 38-member campus-community group has begun its work and has invited all members of the campus and public to share their concerns or ideas with the Task Force either in writing or directly at one of the private and confidential "listening group" sessions. The Task Force will make an initial report and recommendations to President Corrigan by August 1, and will continue its work into the Fall 2002 semester.
  • Inclusion of the Task Force recommendations into the work of the University-wide strategic planning group. This group will be asked to fold the recommendations of the Task Force into its own efforts to shape a longer-range set of priorities, goals, and activities for the University.
  • Academic program development. The Fall 2002 semester has been designated "The Semester on Constructive Civil Discourse," with plans for specific classes focusing on this theme; a film/video series; forums; a major symposium featuring nationally-known experts, and development of a set of campus principles for civil discourse.
  • Inclusion of presentations on civility and dissent in orientation sessions for new students and new faculty.
  • Workshops presented jointly by the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Counseling & Psychological Services to help faculty facilitate classroom discussions prompted by turbulent world issues.
  • A meeting between President Corrigan and leaders of the Arab-American and Muslim-American community, paralleling his meeting with members of the Jewish community, to take place early in July.
  • A three-day retreat for SFSU student leaders on the theme of improving the campus climate, to be led by the Vice President for Student Affairs/Dean of Students, for leadership including Associated Students, the Student Union Governing Board, Fraternity and Sorority Council, Hillel, Muslim Student Association, General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), and others.
  • A freeze on amplified sound on the plaza used for rallies and on creation of new student clubs until after the student leader retreat.
  • Sanctions against the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) for actions at the May 7 rally that violated procedures and guidelines for rallies/demonstrations. GUPS has been put on probation for one year, losing its funding and its Web site for the year and facing stronger sanctions in case of future violations of rally rules or the student code of conduct.
  • A letter of warning to Hillel for inability to control its participants in one area of the rally.

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Last modified June 21, 2002, by the Office of Public Affairs