In July, the University of California Jewish Student Campus Climate Fact-Finding Team produced a report, which included descriptions of Jewish student experiences in the University of California campus system, such as:

A Jewish student at UC Davis described being told that the Star of David was a symbol of hate. A student at UC Santa Cruz who served in the Israeli military described frequently being called a “baby killer.” As another student at UC Santa Cruz put it, “I wish I could actually get to a discussion about the Israeli occupation and Israel’s policies [with the protesters] because there is much to discuss. Unfortunately, it is hard to get to that point because I and other students who support Israel are constantly confronted with the argument that there is no benefit to dialogue because Israel simply has no right to exist”.

The committee subsequently issued a series of recommendations to ease tensions on campus.  These recommendations were challenged in an editorial in the UCLA Daily Bruin by student Ramsey Ugarte:

In July, the UC Jewish Student Campus Climate Fact-Finding Team published a 10-page report outlining what it described as an alienating campus climate for Jewish students and faculty, complete with recommendations to improve that environment.

Even with the team’s presumably good intentions, having read its conclusions and recommendations, I am alarmed by its clear stance against free speech.

It is not the role of universities to regulate political speech – that duty falls exclusively within the jurisdiction the court system. A state educational institution should not be put to interpreting this country’s foundational documents, but should relegate that duty to the system charged with examining and upholding laws.

In one instance, the report recommends specifically that a new hate speech policy outline a definition of anti-Semitism and tie that definition into the university’s already established anti-harassment policies.

According to the report, the “UC should push its current harassment and non-discrimination provisions further, clearly define hate speech in its guidelines and seek opportunities to prohibit hate speech on campus.”
In this manner, the UC fact-finding mission’s report represents a contradiction of what a university should stand for – diverse narratives and perspectives, free speech and expression.

There is a much more simple solution than trying to do the impossible task of defining “hate speech” and tightrope walking the fine line of restricting free speech: Leave it to the courts.