Thursday, February 08, 2007

San Francisco State Loses It

Via The Volokh Conspiracy, a highly-respected legal blog, comes this information from the Foundation For Individual Rights in Education:

(Letter from SFSU to the president of the College Republicans)
I am writing to you as President of the College Republicans to follow-up with you regarding the letter of complaint that was received by the Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development on Thursday, October 26, 2006, notifying the office of alleged violations of University policy. The complaint is in regards to alleged actions at a College Republican sponsored event, "Anti Terrorism Rally," that occurred in Malcolm X Plaza from 12-2 PM on October 17, 2006. The complaint describes alleged actions of walking on a banner with the word "Allah" written in Arabic script. I am writing to inform you that the Office of Student Programs and Leadership Development has concluded its investigation into the events that occurred on October, 17, 2006 in Malcolm X Plaza. The investigation was put in place to review the following alleged violations of University Policy as were addressed in the written complaint:
1. Allegations of attempts to incite violence and create a hostile environment
2. Allegations of actions of incivility (Standards for Student Conduct Title V, 41301) (boldface mine--Darren)

Volokh continues:

FIRE (The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) (see blogroll at left)has more:

The College Republicans “offense” took place on October 17, 2006, when they held an anti-terrorism protest in SFSU’s Malcolm X Plaza. During the protest, several members of the group stepped on butcher paper they had painted to resemble the flags of Hamas and Hezbollah. Unbeknownst to the protestors, the flags they had copied contain the word “Allah” written in Arabic script.
As FIRE points out, burning the American flag, and stepping on it, "is without question a constitutionally protected act of political protest"; stepping on flags of Hamas and Hezbollah, even when they contain religious symbols on them — or for that matter deliberately stepping on religious symbols — is equally protected.

Could a more definitive case against San Francisco State exist? Why would anyone with more than two brain cells want to go to that God-forsaken place?

Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit (see blogroll at left) has linked to two other stories about how SFSU punishes only certain speech--anti-American, anti-Western, or anti-Semitic speech is fair game, of course, and probably encouraged. Anti-Jewish "incivility" is not punished at SFSU.

Here's my favorite line from the university's letter to the president of the College Republicans:

Please keep in mind Carl that you as a student organization have the right to have a representative at any stage of possible disciplinary proceedings. However, attorneys are not permitted as representatives in this process.

Of course they aren't. They would make it too difficult to run roughshod over students whose political ideology the university doesn't agree with.

Update, 2/9/07: Joanne (see blogroll at left) pretty much agrees, but writes about it far more dispassionately. A commenter on her post has links to other stories about what SFSU tolerates when the transgressors are of the "approved" political/social slant.

Update #2, 2/9/07: And while we're at it, let's mention UC Irvine.

Update #3, 2/22/07: I just came across this Debra Saunders column on the topic. Could she be any more accurate?

As for the students who want to punish the College Repubs, they might want to consider how their actions reflect on SFSU. A university is supposed to be a place of learning and a forum made more vibrant by the free exchange of ideas, but this exercise makes SFSU look like a playground where bullies rule.


Cameron said...

If it had been Christian imagery, however, the right would be in total uproar.

Darren said...

Perhaps, Cameron, but the school wouldn't be threatening disciplinary action if that had happened.

And the Muslim students there have walked on American and Israeli flags several times in recent years in protests. When they do *that*, it's First Amendment time.

Leave your anti-Christian, anti-Right baggage at the door and look at this situation from a dispassionate point of view. There's a First Amendment issue here, and there's a "consistency when applying the rules" issue here.