CA university president put on leave after acquiescing to anti-Israel protesters’ demands

May 16, 2024 | Latest News | 0 comments

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The president of Sonoma State University has been placed on leave for agreeing to meet anti-Israel student protesters’ demands “without the appropriate approvals.”

California State University Chancellor Mildred García placed Sonoma State University President Mike Lee on leave after he published an official email in which he agreed to include students in efforts to divest the university from Israel, among other concessions.

“For now, because of this insubordination and the consequences it has brought upon the system, President Lee has been placed on administrative l​eave,” García wrote in a statement published Wednesday.

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In the email, Lee approved a variety of concessions to protesters, including: the creation of a Students for Justice in Palestine advisory council, an academic boycott of Israeli universities, expansion of Palestinian Studies programs at the school, and a demand for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The Sonoma State chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine published screenshots from the email in celebration with the caption “Brick by brick, wall by wall!”

The chancellor announced that she was working with the university board on “reviewing the matter” and that leadership “will provide additional details in the near future.”

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Lee later published a statement affirming that the email acquiescing to protesters’ demands was sent by his unilateral decision and did not represent the wider California University system.

Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Nathan Evans will immediately replace Lee as Sonoma State University’s acting president.

“​Our role as educators is to support and uplift all members of the California State University,” García said in her Wednesday statement. “I want to acknowledge how deeply concerned I am about the impact the statement has had on the Sonoma State community, and how challenging and painful it will be​ for many of our students and community members to see and read.”

She concluded, “The heart and mission of the CSU is to create an inclusive and welcoming place for everyone we serve​, not to marginalize one community over another.”​

Sonoma State is one of the smallest members of the California State University system, with a student body of approximately 6,500 students.

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