San Francisco State Releases Report on Mishandled Protest

September 2, 2016

Four months after pro-Palestine protestors derailed a campus event at San Francisco State University by shouting down the mayor of Jerusalem, the university has released a report about how the incident was mishandled.

"The report makes exceptionally clear that the responsibility for the inadequate response prior to, during and following the event falls squarely on the shoulders of San Francisco State University administrators," Les Wong, the university's president, said in a campuswide email Thursday. "On April 6, we failed our students -- both the event attendees and the protesters -- through multiple inactions."

According to the report, which was compiled by an outside law firm hired by the university, those inactions included not providing enough lead time to properly plan the event, not clarifying whether the event should be open or closed and not adequately intervening once the protestors began chanting.

While San Francisco State's chief of police attempted to quiet the demonstrators, he was dressed in plain clothes and students said they did not realize he was acting on behalf of police or the university. The report also faulted the university's student affairs officials for not stepping in during the event and for not adequately handling student conduct decisions following the protest. "It seemed I did not get much support from student affairs," the chief of police told the law firm. "We are usually a team and one united voice. Where here, I was the only one saying stop."

The university on Thursday announced a series of changes to how it will handle demonstrations in the future, including providing training to police officers and student affairs employees and adopting a clearer policy for when students who disrupt an event should be punished by the university or arrested by police.

"Ensuring our campus is a safe environment for all students is my top priority for the coming year," Wong said. "We will continue to monitor the campus climate, and we will make every effort to respond to student concerns in a timely fashion. We will work to build trust with our students and the broader community so that we can fully embody our institutional mission and our values."

+ -

Expand commentsHide comments  —   Join the conversation!

Opinions on Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed’s Blog U

Back to Top