Dear Chancellor Gillman,
My name is Jeff Astrof and I am a television writer/producer in Hollywood — well, technically Burbank — and while very little shocks me anymore in terms of what is happening on college campuses, I was floored when I read that UCI was suspending its College Republican club. Now, it is needless to say that as a sitcom writer (having written on many shows over the last quarter century, including Friends and a pilot that recently got picked up by NBC) I am duty-bound to be a Democrat. So the thought that whatever few College Republicans there are won’t get a fair shake is not in itself a “game changer” for me. However, when it is put into the context of the toxic environment facing young people today on college campuses, especially by radical groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine who have completely hijacked the conversation about Israel and the Mideast and have literally threatened those who don’t see eye to eye with its extremist views, that were they directed towards any other group other than Jews would not be tolerated– well, that’s where the alarm bells go off.
As a father of a teenage girl who will be looking at colleges in two years, my thoughts have switched from “where will she get the best education” to “where will she be safe”. And not only physically, but psychologically. Sadly, much of the UC system has failed in its responsibility to provide a safe environment for any “pro-Israel” student, and UC Irvine stands out as probably the most hostile campus for Jews, especially given the anemic reaction that the administration had to the Muslim Student Union and SJP shutting down of the benign pro-IDF film, “Beneath the Helmet”, where police were brought in to escort out the people viewing the film and not the protestors!
I can’t imagine your job is easy dealing with vocal minority groups that scream “Injustice!” and “Apartheid” even though these groups have been affiliated with terrorist organizations themselves. Most colleges have abdicated their moral responsibility in the face of Political Correctness, and it is the future generations that will suffer. And while sadly, UCI may be beyond repair — personally I’m not sure why any Jewish person would send their kids there at this point — it should still be a place where basic freedoms are upheld, or at least the playing field is leveled. If the College Republicans deserve to be suspended because they didn’t get a permit for an event, well then by all means, they should be suspended so the rule of law is upheld. But if it is just another shameful quieting of dissenting voices done out of fear, well then we are even worse off than I feared.
As a writer/producer, I rely on Freedom of Expression to have my views heard. It is our most profound right as American citizens, and the university system is the firewall against its collapse. It is up to you as Chancellor to not only do the right thing, but to do what you were hired to do as an academic institution in the most creative state in the most creative country in the world.
This may publish anywhere in its entirety provided the following link is attached:
Posts regarding UCI suspending College Republicans
[NOTE: This email (along with the posts from Breitbart) was sent to Howard Gillman, chancellor of UCI, on 6/23/2016. It was later shared with thousands via The Israel Group’s eNEWS. It asked people to get involved, to email or call (949-824-5011) Chancellor Gillman with their thoughts regarding UCI’s outrageous actions and double standards. The same day, following internal and external backlash, the ban was temporarily lifted, pending an appeal.]
Dear Chancellor Gillman,
As a pro-Israel organization representing thousands of people, we are outraged to learn that the University of California, Irvine, has suspended the UCI College Republicans for one year.
It is our understanding that the antisemitic, anti-Zionist, and anti-Israel organizations, Students Justice for Palestine and Muslim Student Union at UCI, have committed many egregious school violations, including one, where 11 Muslim Student Union members were charged with disturbing Israeli ambassador Michael Oren from speaking. In that criminal case, the Muslim Student Union was suspended for only six months, while the College Republicans only violations were technical in nature (permit, etc.). SJP was not suspended for recently disturbing the event showing the film, “Beneath the Helmet.”
If these accounts are true, and not immediately rectified, we will push a national campaign against UCI that will include, but not be limited to legal, political, and fundraising pressure.
We await your immediate response.
Founder / Executive Director
The Israel Group
Thomas A. Partham, Vice Chancellor Student Affairs
Douglas M. Haynes, Vice Provost for Academic Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
UC Board of Regents
Assembly member Shirley Weber, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate
Senator Marty Block, Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus
VICTORY: UC Irvine Republicans Ban Overturned Following Backlash
[NOTE: The ban was only postponed pending an appeal.]
UC Irvine have restored the rights of the College Republicans to host events and access space on campus.
This overturns an earlier decision by the university, reported by Breitbart earlier in the week, to prevent the Republicans from accessing space on campus for a full academic year after campus adminstrators learned of their plans to invite senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos to speak on campus a second time.
In a letter to Ariana Rowlands, President of the UCI Republicans, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs said that the ban had been lifted pending appeal:
College Republicans at UCI
Dear Ms. Rowlands and the Authorized Signers of the College Republicans at UCI,
I am contacting you on behalf of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. As a follow-up to my letter sent yesterday, I want to share with you that the revocation of your privileges to access space on campus through UCI Student Center & Event Services has been withdrawn pending the final outcome of your appeal. At this time, your ability to access space on campus has been restored.
As mentioned in the June 22 letter, the vice chancellor invites you to submit your appeal by July 1. We look forward to hearing from you.
Chief of Staff
This u-turn by UCI’s administration comes after a massive backlash from conservatives and liberals both on campus and off. In addition to scathing reports from conservative and libertarian media, the President of the Holyoke College Republicans, Kassy Dillon, slammed UCI for their “insult to every College Republican across the country” in an op-ed for Breitbart.
UC Irvine Suspends College Republicans For A Year Following Milo Event
By Ben Kew
The UC Irvine Republicans have been suspended for an entire year after they informed the administration of their plans to schedule another event on campus with Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos.
Their justification for the ban was the group’s alleged failure to provide a certificate of insurance for the private security hired for the event to protect Milo. It means the group can no longer hold meetings, reserve rooms, plan events, or function as a club on campus in any capacity.
However, the need for a certificate of insurance appears to be an inconsistent requirement, as the group previously hosted conservative pundit David Horowtiz, who also required private security, but the group were never asked to provide an insurance certificate, and were not penalised for not doing so.
Furthermore, according to Rowlands, the administration claims that that Robert Petrosyan, Chairman Emeritus of the College Republicans, and the person handling administrative details for the first Milo event, received three warnings to provide a certificate prior to the night of the event.
Rowlands says the administration have not been able to provide documentation of any of these reminders. Furthermore, Petrosyan says he was only informed of the requirement on a single occasion, which happened to be just one day before the event.
UC Irvine Milo Ban ‘An Insult To Every College Republican Across The Country’
By Kassy Dillon
Yesterday, it was reported that the administration of UC Irvine suspended the College Republicans club for an entire year – simply on account of their interest in holding a second event with Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos.
They claimed the suspension was on account of a security and insurance lapse at a previous event: the latest in a string of hostile interactions with the administration over club events and logistics. Then, they tried to backpedal and claim they weren’t suspending the group’s charter; just the group’s ability to host meetings or events – in other words, their ability to do anything as a group. The group could exist, but only for the sake of existing. For what, at worst, amounts to a poor ability to communicate, the club was suspended not just from holding one event, nor for one semester, but for an entire year. I mean, come on, is Milo really that scary?
As a College Republican President, I am outraged. This affects more than just the Republicans at University of California, Irvine. This is an insult to every College Republican across the country: and frankly, an insult to any halfway sensible person on the face of the earth. UCI’s College Republicans chapter is under attack in an attempt to cater to the liberal lunacy that the school clearly encourages among its students.
When I started at Mount Holyoke College, I knew that there would only be a very small amount of students who would openly identify as Republican. I found this group – even though it only has five active students in a campus of 2,255 – as a place where I can openly express and develop my views and not worry about being silenced. I began as the Treasurer in my freshman year and will be starting my junior year in the fall as the President.
I became President because I am not afraid to have and share controversial views that people on college campuses don’t agree with — but not every student is as willing to speak up as me. The number-one way to expand a club’s reach on campus is to give it publicity, and often the best way to do that is to host a speaker.