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Recent Student Events at San Francisco State University: A Summary


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Events of the week of May 6, 2002:

May 6, 2002: The Muslim Student Association (MSA) scheduled a pro-Palestine rally titled "Zionism in Palestine and Around the World" from noon to 2 p.m. San Francisco Hillel registered its plan for a counter-demonstration, as permitted in the University's campus event policy. Both organizations informed the University's Office of Student Leadership and Program Development (OSLPD) that they expected very large crowds. As a precautionary measure the University, with the student organizations' knowledge, set up barricades for the event. The barricades were intended to maintain a safe distance between both demonstrators and counter-demonstrators, and have been used for very large events in the past.

The May 6 pro-Palestine rally took place, and the turnout was very low. Hillel did not stage a counter rally. The barricades remained up for the events planned on May 7. Again, both organizations informed the University that they expected large turnouts for May 7.

In planning for large campus turn outs, it is common practice for the University Police to alert the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD), which it did for the events of May 6 and May 7. The University chief of police often calls upon SFPD to send officers to locations on or near campus in case the campus needs assistance during an event. The chief also called upon SFPD for a very large pro-Palestine event on April 8 titled "The Cry of the Oppressed."

May 7, 2002: Hillel sponsored a "We Stand with Israel: Now and Forever" rally. Approximately 350 campus and community people attended the rally, according to University police estimates. Also, according to University police estimates, approximately 75 people attended a counter rally, sponsored by the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS). The counter-demonstrators were separated from the stage by nearly 40 feet by the barricades, by SFSU Public Safety officers and by University staff. Both demonstrations were extremely loud and could be heard around the Plaza outside the Student Center. At the barricades, both groups passionately argued back and forth. Video tapes of the incident indicate that individuals from both sides said offensive words.

After Hillel ended the rally around 1:30 and began dispersing, a small number of pro-Palestine supporters entered the Plaza. A few got up on the stage and waved their flags. Soon after, a group of pro-Israel supporters, who had set up a table at the back of the Plaza at the entrance to the Student Center, was confronted. Some of the pro-Palestine supporters were shouting for the Jewish students to take down the Israeli flag and signs. Some members of the pro-Palestine group tried to defuse the situation and asked their group to move away from the conflict, but they were not successful. As the confrontation continued, the SFSU Public Safety officers and the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) interposed a police line between the groups and on request, eventually, escorted the Hillel students out of the Plaza. No effort was made to stop the Hillel students from exiting the Plaza. No one was physically harmed and no arrests were made.

Beginning May 10, 2002, SFSU began receiving numerous emails and community responses criticizing the conduct of the counter-demonstrators.

University Actions:

  • On May 7, SFSU's Office of Public Safety videotaped the rally, as is common practice at all major rallies, and is looking into possible violations of the University's code of student discipline and event policy by supporters of both organizations.
  • If SFSU identifies violations of public law, it will refer those cases to the San Francisco District Attorney's office.
  • SFSU is currently reviewing its policies and procedures regarding student rallies. Those found to be strong and sound will be restated. Those needing to be changed will be revised and widely distributed.
  • On May 13, 2002, President Robert A. Corrigan sent a strong response to the campus community regarding the lack of civility and decency on the part of a very few demonstrators.
  • On May 13, 2002, President Corrigan and other administrators met with Jewish community leaders, faculty, parents and students to address their concerns. That meeting was the first of many such meetings that are scheduled to take place with President Corrigan, University officials and members of various groups and individuals.
  • Since May 10, SFSU has been contacting government officials, alumni, members of the SFSU community and members of the public regarding its response to the events of the last month.
  • All e-mail, phone calls and letters received by the University regarding the event have been or are being given a response.
  • President Corrigan is appointing a task force to develop a long-term action plan. Among other things, the group will consider the University's curriculum; hiring practices; faculty, staff and student orientations; special colloquia and or discussions and the student codes of conduct. Representatives from the campus and external community will be invited to serve on the task force and a preliminary report will be due to the President by August 1, 2002.
  • SFSU is integrating this action plan into its campuswide strategic planning process, which is currently in progress.

Events occurring between April 4 - 8, 2002:

On April 4, 2002, a flier was circulated to increase attendance at a rally, "Genocide of the 21 Century," hosted by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) on April 8 at San Francisco State University. In the upper right-hand corner of the flier, a picture of a baby with the caption, "Palestinian Children Meat -- Slaughtered According to Jewish Rites Under American License," was depicted. The General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) and Associated Students (AS) were also listed on the flier. All student organizations receive funding from student fees via Associated Students.

No tax dollars and to the best of the University's knowledge no student organization funds were used to pay for the flier.

University Actions:

  • MSA & GUPS students attempted to black out the image on the flier on April 5, 2002.
  • By the end of the day on April 5, all of the fliers had been removed from the campus by both students and University staff. The flier has not been reprinted or redistributed by the sponsoring organizations since the initial posting.
  • Approximately 900 people from the campus and community attended the rally, according to University police estimates. Following the rally, protestors peacefully marched down 19th Avenue, which marks the eastern border of the SFSU campus.
  • No counter demonstration took place, nor was one requested or scheduled. A small group of Hillel students stood nearby and handed out fliers.
  • On April 11, 2002, President Robert A. Corrigan sent a letter expressing his disappointment over the creation of the flier to AS, MSA and GUPS.
  • On April 12, 2002, President Corrigan sent a similar letter to the campus community regarding the rally and the flier.
  • The Offices of Student Affairs, Human Relations and Student Programs and Leadership Development have held numerous individual meetings with MSA, GUPS and Hillel.
  • On April 25, 2002, MSA sent a letter of apology to President Corrigan for the "blood libel" image. The letter also reaffirmed the organization's commitment to speak out against the foreign policies of the Israeli government. The apology was published in the student newspaper.
  • The Offices of Human Relations, Public Affairs and Government Relations have been responding to various emails sent by the public concerned with this flier.

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Last modified May 16, 2002, by the Office of Public Affairs