More than 100 civil rights and education watchdogs call for investigation of the University of California’s Ethnic Studies Department

Citing newly released evidence that faculty at the University of California are using their official faculty positions and resources to promote anti-Israel propaganda, in violation of University policy and California law, 115 non-profit advocacy organizations called on the University of California Regents to investigate.

“We are 115 education, civil rights and religious organizations, who are deeply concerned about the relentless promotion of anti-Zionist propaganda and activism by the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies department at UC Santa Cruz, that appears to be in flagrant violation of UC policy and California law,” wrote the groups in the letter organized by AMCHA Initiative that was sent to the Regents today.  Some of the other signatories include the AJCs of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco; B’nai B’rith International; the Brandeis Center; California Association of Scholars; Hillel at Davis and Sacramento; Hillel of Silicon Valley; Inland and Desert Hillel; Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors; Simon Wiesenthal Center; The Daniel Pearl Foundation; and the World Jewish Congress North America.

The organizations are referencing evidence exposed last week by antisemitism watchdog, AMCHA Initiative, documenting how CRES faculty have, in their official capacities, engaged in anti-Israel political advocacy and activism.

Some of the incidents unveiled include: blaming Israel for the Hamas massacre and calling Israel’s defensive measures a “genocide;” incorporating anti-Zionist propaganda, including clear falsehoods, into their teaching and teacher training programs; shutting down their department as part of a “Global General Strike” against Israel and calling for students to boycott their classes; and promoting and participating in the “Shut It Down for Palestine” protest rally of Students for Justice in Palestine that illegally blocked access to the campus. Even after a clear warning from the UCSC Provost highlighting UC policies proscribing political advocacy and activism “in the classroom and other instructional spaces,” CRES faculty doubled-down on their political activities, recently announcing on their university website the launch of Faculty for Justice in Palestine, a group designed to serve as the faculty-arm of SJP.

The organizations note recent statements by government officials and UC leaders acknowledging that faculty who use their university positions and public resources to promote anti-Zionist propaganda and activism are responsible for inciting campus antisemitism and they recognize that such behavior violates University regulations and the law, and must be stopped.

In a letter to the leaders of California’s public universities and colleges, Governor (Gavin) Newsom remarked, “Antisemitism globally and at home has proliferated at a shocking speed and scale. And some faculty have inflamed the discourse with violent rhetoric…This is unacceptable and demands action.”

“While CRES’s substitution of political indoctrination and activism for scholarship and education ultimately hurts everyone in the academic community, we are especially concerned about its deleterious impact on the campus community’s Jewish members. Against the backdrop of an explosion of campus antisemitism since Hamas’ massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7th, CRES’s behavior gives academic legitimacy to virulent antisemitism and can’t help but contribute to a hostile environment for Jewish students, faculty and staff at UCSC,” wrote the organizations to the Regents.

Hillel International has documented a more than 700 percent increase in campus antisemitism since Hamas’ horrific massacre of Israeli civilians on Oct. 7 .

Earlier this month, California’s Legislative Jewish Caucus released a statement expressing that its members were “deeply troubled by reports of UC and CSU faculty egregiously abusing their authority…to amplify antisemitic and anti-Israel propaganda,” concluding, “In light of these abuses, the UC and CSU systems must take immediate action to protect Jewish students.” And at the latest meeting of the UC Board of Regents, UC Regents Chair Leib recounted hearing from many Jewish students who “believe their rights have been violated by episodes of academic abuse…in violation of the faculty code of conduct and our University policies,” emphasizing, “that is not OK.”

The organizations raise particular alarm with the abuse coming out of the CRES department since it plays an integral role in bringing the department’s highly politicized version of ethnic studies to K-12 classrooms in the state.

Last year CRES became the first UCSC department outside the STEM fields to include an expedited pathway for students to earn a post-BA teaching credential. In addition, CRES leadership is behind a proposal for establishing a UC ethnic studies admissions requirement, which, if approved, would force almost every high school student in the state to take an ethnic studies course whose content standards were developed, in large part, by CRES faculty.

The organizations note that considering the damning evidence collected by AMCHA as well as the Regents own findings, it is urgent they conduct “an immediate and thorough investigation of the department, with punitive action taken for all violations,” to stop this egregious abuse and protect Jewish students.

About the AMCHA Initiative
AMCHA Initiative is a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to combating antisemitism at colleges and universities in the United States. The organization monitors more than 600 campuses for antisemitic activity, as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance and the U.S. government. AMCHA is not a pro-Israel advocacy organization, nor does it take a position on current or past Israeli government policies; criticism of Israel that does not meet the IHRA and U.S. government criteria is not considered antisemitic by the organization. AMCHA has recorded more than 6,000 antisemitic incidents on college campuses since 2015 which can be accessed through its Antisemitism Tracker