After years of fruitless complaining about the insidious anti-Jewish subculture at San Francisco State University, someone finally took bold action. As we reported on June 19, several current SFSU students and concerned Jewish community members this week sued the university, its officials and the CSU system.
Filing a lawsuit in federal court should always be a last step. In this case, sadly, it was a step worth taking.
Our story this week on the lawsuit is only the latest in years of J.’s ongoing coverage of the campus climate at SFSU. This spring we exposed the administration’s sorry track record of neglect and selective outrage when it came to the concerns of the Jewish community on and around campus.
To recap, the administration did little after a mob of shouting protesters shut down the visiting mayor of Jerusalem last year. The only response to the protesters, who had trampled the free speech rights of Jewish students: written statements of disapproval and weak promises to do better.
The administration so far has done nothing after it came to light that anti-Zionist, and arguably anti-Jewish, student groups and their SFSU staff enablers subversively cut Hillel out of a Know Your Rights information fair in February.
And in an interview with J. last month, SFSU President Leslie Wong, though apparently well meaning, could not, when asked, even muster the courage to say that those who consider themselves Zionists were welcome on his campus.
Something had to give.
The 78-page lawsuit recounts years of alleged anti-Jewish and anti-Israel actions and speech at SFSU. Plaintiffs are seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief, which would mean some sort of court-ordered remedy or oversight.
In its defense, the university issued a statement strongly disagreeing with the allegations, yet at the same time saying it is committed to “the elimination of anti-Semitism in our community.” That’s essentially what it has said for years.
Is suing the right thing to do? Would it have been better to work with school officials behind the scenes in a less confrontational manner? Maybe, except that method has been tried over the years, to little avail.
The courts are bastions of redress. Jewish students impacted by years of benign (and sometimes not so benign) neglect at SFSU had every right to seek their day in court.
Now, university officials must answer to the charges and explain why they have done so little to protect their Jewish students from discrimination.