Anti-Israel professor misuses CSUN website
By Bruce Kesler
ENCINITAS, California — Does David Klein, a math professor at California State University, have the bright to use the university’s web server, the url (http://www.csun.edu/~vcmth00m/boycott.html ) being the university’s, to post a hate page against Israel and Jews?
The webpage says, “Israel is the most racist state in the world at this time,” Israel engages in “ethnic cleansing”, says “No” to the question “But aren’t Palestinians equally responsible for the violence?”, posts links to other similar charges from the usual assortment of Israel-haters, and calls for a boycott of Israel.
According to the California State University’s legal counsel (http://www.calstate.edu/gc/csu/) , “The California State University is committed to protect against the misuse of its name.” He continues on “Misuse of the CSU name”, “It is inappropriate to use the CSU name without the written permission of the institution for any purpose, including:…Advertising any meeting or activity that has the purpose of supporting or opposing any strike, lockout, boycott, or political, religious, sociological or economic activity…”
Yet, according to the Cal State Northridge President Jolene Koester, retiring this month, a review of the professor’s webpage, spurred by many letters of complaint, “raised many difficult issues, [but] it found no such violations. This conclusion was affirmed by CSU legal counsel.” She goes on to say, “the University does uphold and preserve the principles of academic freedom—and Professor
Klein’s right to express his views. Our review affirmed that this right extends to the use of an individual’s web pages, as part of the University website, as a vehicle for expression.”
There does appear to be a conflict between the stated policy and President Koester’s opinion, doesn’t there? So, imagine if a Cal State professor put a webpage on the university’s server full of racism against Blacks or hate against gays. One can predict, pretty safely, that there would be an uproar on campuses across California and the country, led by college administrators. The webpage would be taken down as contrary to university policy, as well as common decency. Academic freedom would be put aside because of the egregiousness of the webpage, unrelated to the professor’s mathematics coursework, and because it conflicts with university policies on diversity.
For example, the Chancellor of the California State University system, Charles Reed, wrote in 2005 that as official policy (Executive Policy No. 927_ (http://www.calstate.edu/eo/EO-927.pdf) ), regarding faculty, “Harassment occurs when unwelcome conduct is engaged in because of a protected status of an individual, which include race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, veteran status, physical disability, mental disability, or medical condition.”
The official policy continues with examples that would apply in this situation. Chancellor Reed is still Chancellor. It is time and appropriate for Chancellor Reed to update the university’s policy in light of the October 2010 ruling by the federal Office of Civil Rights that Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act applies to creating discrimination and a hostile atmosphere against Jewish students.
The blatant hypocrisy and disregard of current law, as well as of common decency, displayed by the administration at Cal State Northridge is intolerable. This is not an issue of academic freedom. The university’s valued name is being abused to preach hate, unrelated to the professor’s math coursework.
The professor’s right of free speech is not, either, being trampled as he is protected to speak on his own, either on or off campus. But, his free speech does not extend to the harassing use of the university’s web server, giving the impression that the university condones it.
Such conduct would be immediate grounds for censure or termination of employment at any private company. A public university should be held to the same standards. Look for yourself at the professor’s webpage on the university’s server and then please write to Chancellor Reed expressing your view. His email is CReed@calstate.edu . You may also write to the California State University Trustees via email@example.com asking that your comments be distributed to the Trustees.
Kesler is a freelance writer based in Encinitas. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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