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SDSU Faculty Send Letter Condemning Hirshman's Handling Of Horowitz Fliers

One of the fliers students say began circulating in April at San Diego State University, April 27, 2016.
Pablo Tinoco
One of the fliers students say began circulating in April at San Diego State University, April 27, 2016.
SDSU Faculty Send Letter Condemning Hirshman's Handling Of Horowitz Fliers
GUEST:Anne-Marie Debbané, Assistant Professor of Geography at San Diego State University

The controversy over fliers posted this month at San Diego State University is echoing way. Those fliers distributed by the Horowitz freedom Center of creation right wing David Horowitz named several students allied with Palestinian terror groups . Late last week STS staff signed a letter to the president criticizing the University's response to the suppliers. Calls on the president to denounce not just the naming of students cop at the allegations made in the fliers. Joining me is Anne-Marie Depp in a hot she is a professor at San Diego State University and one of the signers of the letter . Thank you Marine, it's nice to be here . Why isn't this controversy dying down question mark what have been the impacts on campus of the fliers accusation in the University's response . The controversy will not go away until appropriate actions are taken. First and foremost, the president and in ministration need to denounce. The immediate repercussions on campus were visible and did tensions that emerged following the response to students that was actually broadcast all over local news stations and I am speaking specifically of course about the campus protests on April 27. We do have a clip of the students reacting to allegations in the fliers as they protested last month . Those in the protest that you were referring to . You also refer to anti-Muslim hates beach at the library . It's hardly a coincidence that hate speech was found the Dave Harless came to talk on campus and also in the wake of recent events . The fact that the letters critical of how the protesters we just heard were portrayed. Was that portrayed by the University or media? I believe that the event itself cut the protest itself, were entirely avoidable. This is what we state in the letter. What is quite striking is that for many of us, we actually only found out about the fire incident on the day of the purchase . That also is problematic that faculty were not made aware immediately. This was happening on our campus. This is just before the students are preparing for their final exams. We need to be aware of the kinds of tensions that students are experiencing on campus. It was very troubling for us to not only be witness to these protest but to realize that this has been something that had occurred a few weeks ago and then when we see the protests on television, it is quite disturbing. So, on the one hand the way the media portray the protest has students surrounding the president, trapped in a police car. The president had barricaded himself, it's part of an inflammatory narrative around the events. At the same time, and to reiterate what I said a moment ago, the protests were avoidable work it was quite shocking to see students hold signs reading I am not a terrorist. It's important to note that the students in fact engaged in a silent protest in a meeting with associated students. They attempted to speak with the president who then immediately ran out and, why is the president in the police car in the first place? What message does that convey to students about being able to communicate with the president? This was not the only attempt to speak with him. Many attempts were made previously. This is very disturbing . Do you think this incident has had a chilling effect on free speech in particular pro-Palestinian views on campus? We are the end of the academic career on - year. So it's premature to say that . I've not spoken directly with students but some professors have mentioned that the parents of students have told him they want them to not be involved in activism . That is troubling because university education is in opportunities for students to engage in political discussions and dialogue and debate as they explore and exchange ideas and viewpoints that are tied to raising political and moral consciousness. This, in effect, suppresses dissenting voices and also is inconsistent with the University's mission and goals about providing the basis for informed and engaged citizenship . The Council on American and Islamic relations and action network have called for Elliott Hirschman's resignation. But the faculty letter does not. So you do not think that Hirschman should step down? This net is not a debate that we are engaging in. Our chimeric concern is for the president to finally bring some resolution to this issue and condemned the allegations made against the students. Finally call you and the other signers of this letter possibly putting your careers in jeopardy question marks back if that were the case, then that would be a violation of our freedom of speech. This is excellent exactly the point where trying to make. The students freedom of speech has not been violated because they have been aimed at depressing their voices. Why is faculty, we thought it was important to come out because if the students have the courage and strength of their convictions, then we too should set an example. We must let the students know that if at this point in time they cannot count on the administration to defend them call they must know that faculty support them and promote their right to freedom of speech . I've been speaking with Anne-Marie, assistant to Professor. of geography at San Diego State University . Thank you so much . Thank you, Maureen .

San Diego State University faculty have sent a letter to the campus' president, Elliot Hirshman, condemning his handling of fliers posted on campus that linked several students to terrorists.

In April, conservative activist David Horowitz posted fliers listing the names of students who support efforts to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel for alleged human rights abuses in Palestine. The fliers said they had "aligned themselves with Palestinian terrorists."

Unlike presidents at other campuses where Horowitz posted fliers, Hirshman did not address the fliers until students protested. His subsequent statement did not condemn them but instead stressed the need for freedom of speech and healthy dialogue on the campus.

Nearly 80 faculty members have since signed on to a letter saying Hirshman's response has allowed an environment in which students who support Palestine or are Muslim cannot feel safe exercising their right to free speech.

"Students engaged in protest actions as a last resort, after unsuccessful attempts to meet with you to discuss what they justifiably viewed as an inadequate response to the flyers," the letter says. "We share their concerns and object to the manner in which your statement … ultimately absolved those directly responsible for inciting hate against our students, while simultaneously calling on students to accept the consequences for having the audacity to express their political viewpoints."

RELATED: An Israeli And A Palestinian Dig Deeper Into Controversy At SDSU

In the letter, faculty members ask Hirshman to issue a statement denouncing allegations against the students. In another open letter to Hirshman, the Center for Constitutional Rights and National Lawyer's Guild suggest the fliers accuse the students of committing a federal crime.

A crowd of protesters and members of the media surround a police car where San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman was in, April 27, 2016.
Quinn Owen
A crowd of protesters and members of the media surround a police car where San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman was in, April 27, 2016.

The groups also suggest Hirshman has abdicated his legal responsibilities under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act because all but one of the students listed on the poster are Muslim or of Arab origin. Title VI prohibits discrimination in schools based on race, color or national origin.

In a statement Thursday, Hirshman said: "We appreciate the engagement of our faculty and staff on these important issues. We are working with the University Senate to pursue a campus dialogue that provides members of our community a full opportunity to consider these issues."

After students protested on April 27, Hirshman met with members of the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine to hear their concerns. In a joint statement, Hirshman and the students said they "abhor" bigoted expressions "but recognize their protected status." Hirshman said his administration, in collaboration with student groups, would review the campus' speech policies.