(KRON) — Fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East has stirred up heated rhetoric and fears on the campuses of Stanford University and University of California Berkeley.
On Thursday, UC Berkeley’s chancellor and two professors urged all campus community members to maintain “respect and dignity.”
“We decry any calls for violence in any form or support for terrorism as we continue to mourn the loss of innocent life. We understand this rhetoric is creating deep fear and concern among many members of our campus community,” Chancellor Carol Christ wrote in a message to the Berkeley campus community.
UC Berkeley has some faculty members who are Palestinian, and others who are Israeli. Dr. Hatem Bazian is Palestinian and a lecturer of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures. Dr. Ron Hassner is Israeli and a professor of Israel Studies.
Bazain and Hassner wrote a joint statement to the campus, stating, “We are two professors on this campus who disagree, vehemently. But we have always treated one another with respect and dignity.”
Bazain and Hassner’s statement continued, “We love this campus with its diverse communities and all of our students and are heartbroken to hear of incidents of near violence between students in recent days. We will not tolerate our students harming one another. Disagreement and differing points of view are an essential part of campus life, and we expect that you treat one another with the same respect and dignity that we are modeling here.”
Another prestigious university in the San Francisco Bay Area, Stanford University, is also grappling with heated conversations in reaction to fighting between Israel and Hamas.
One Stanford instructor was removed from a classroom and suspended from teaching after they allegedly called out certain students based on their identities, university officials said.
“A non-faculty instructor is reported to have addressed the Middle East conflict in a manner that called out individual students in class based on their backgrounds and identities. The instructor in this course is not currently teaching while the university works to ascertain the facts of the situation,” Stanford’s president and provost stated.
Stanford president Richard Saller and provost Jenny Martinez urged the campus community to show compassion and respect.
“The events in Israel and Gaza this week have affected and engaged large numbers of students on our campus,” Saller and Martinez wrote. “We have heard from Jewish students, faculty, and staff concerned about rising antisemitism. We have heard from Palestinian students who have received threatening emails and phone calls.”
Banners, signs, and chalk writings have also appeared around Stanford’s campus expressing viewpoints that many found offensive.
“The fighting in the Middle East is likely to continue in the coming weeks, with casualties on both sides, and the overall situation has a deep and complex history. Stanford has community members who are themselves from the region or who have friends and family there. We recognize the deeply felt impacts across our community. We encourage you to approach one another with a spirit of compassion and respect for our shared humanity,” Saller and Martinez wrote.
University of California Berkeley officials said they took steps to support public safety for all events and protests held on campus related to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Dealing with Threats and Harassment
“The safety and well-being of our students is of paramount importance. We understand that some students have reported harassment, occurring verbally and through online platforms. Our campus has zero tolerance for abusive behavior. Harassment is a violation of the Code of Student Conduct and students found responsible for harassment will be held accountable,” UC Berkeley officials wrote.
- Death threats / threats of physical harm: You can contact law enforcement directly if you experience physical harm, direct threats or emergency situations. If you need help, dial 911. For on-campus non-emergencies, call UCPD at 510-642-6760.
- Reporting – Other reporting options include:
- For information and support on reporting hate crimes or hate-motivated acts, go to stophate.berkeley.edu.
- The Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination can be contacted by calling 510 643-7985. It responds to and resolves reports of protected category discrimination and harassment. This includes violence and also harassment such as online or virtual harassment (including “doxxing” or “trolling”), and physical or online stalking behaviors, if the respondent can be identified and is part of the UCB community. OPHD can help you understand your rights, options and resources, including campus and community support, and offers informal and formal resolution pathways.