After months of deliberation, the UC Board of Regents released a report of its revised statement of Principles Against Intolerance on Tuesday, which now expressly condemns anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.
The report’s introduction explained that the regents wanted to revise the current policy statement over concerns that it was too vague to adequately combat discrimination.
In light of recent anti-Semitic incidents, the report lists 10 major policy points prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion, among other characteristics, while emphasizing the importance of free speech on all UC campuses.
The UC Board of Regents Committee on Educational Policy initially convened in September 2015 to look into its policy statement on intolerance. The committee created a nine-member working group to revise UC policy over the course of several meetings and public forums. The committee is set to adopt the report March 23.
“(I) commend the regents on their integrity and their thoughtfulness,” said Josh Woznica, president of the campus’s Jewish Student Union, regarding the report.
Woznica noted a recent rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes nationally and said the increase warrants a distinction to be made by the university in how it will combat anti-Semitism in particular.
In addition, the report urges the university to discipline individuals who have engaged in unlawful conduct, such as harassment or threats on the basis of discrimination, and suggests using restorative justice techniques that encourage learning and mutual respect.
Tikvah: Students for Israel president Michaela Fried said that creating a report prohibiting anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist remarks on UC campuses would not mitigate anti-Semitism.
“The university has always been historically and should remain a center of the Free Speech Movement,” Fried said. “If we aren’t challenged here and if we aren’t introduced to the fact that there is opposition to and hatred of and discrimination against Jews, then we’re not going to be able to think differently about what our beliefs are.”
Though pleased that the university report pinpointed anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, Rep. Brad Sherman, D-California, said he was disappointed that it neglected to define anti-Semitism itself.
He added that he thought the university should adopt the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism, because the university receives federal funds.
“The more you define intolerance, the more you effectively work against it,” Sherman said.
The report’s introduction is problematic, said United Auto Workers Local 2865 vice president and Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Berkeley member David McCleary, because it conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism, and it is unclear whether the introductory portion is enforceable.
“This document makes it seem like other identity-based intolerance is unimportant, and that’s a problem,” McCleary said.
Regardless of whether the report is adopted, both the UC system and UC Berkeley will remain committed to combating anti-Semitism in every form, said campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.
“We will continue to work diligently to make sure that this is a campus where every single person feels safe, welcome and respected,” Mogulof said.