Professor joins sleep-in to protest antisemitism, demonstrating solidarity with others

A rising number of university professors in California will spend the night in their offices this week to demonstrate against the handling of antisemitism issues on their campuses.

They’re standing in solidarity with Ron Hassner, a political science professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been residing in his office for nearly two weeks to protest what he perceives as inaction from school officials. He alleges they have not taken action on a list of demands he submitted following recent incidents at the Northern California campus.

Hassner is advocating for faculty to undergo training on combating antisemitism and Islamophobia. Additionally, he has requested that if invited speakers are disrupted by protesters and unable to complete their speeches, they should be reinvited to the campus to deliver their talks again.

“Everybody in the Berkeley leadership is deeply embarrassed by professors and students who speak out of line and behave in unprofessional ways,” he informed USA TODAY.

Over 20 other faculty members from universities in California, including Stanford and San Francisco State University, have agreed to participate in their own “sit-ins” this week to support Hassner. Sit-ins are a common form of political protest, especially on college campuses.

Among the faculty members backing Hassner is Jeff Kopstein, the director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of California, Irvine.

“I’ve been a professor for 33 years,” he shared. “The last term was the most challenging of my career.”

Read more: Choosing a college is challenging. The Israel-Hamas conflict is exacerbating the situation.

Since the initiation of the Israel-Hamas conflict last year, universities nationwide have grappled with extensive protests and discord over how to address the conflict both in and out of the classroom. Administrators, particularly at the largest and most selective institutions, have faced difficulties in appeasing impassioned students and influential benefactors. Congressional hearings heatedly discussing the matter concluded with the resignations of two Ivy League presidents.

Read more: Columbia University’s president agrees to participate in a congressional hearing regarding campus antisemitism.

According to a recent University of Chicago study, 56% of Jewish college students expressed feeling personally threatened since the outbreak of the conflict. Similarly, over half of Muslim college students reported similar fears. The study examined the survey results of 5,000 students from 600 schools.

UC Berkeley, Hassner’s institution, declared in a statement to USA TODAY that it is dedicated to fostering an environment where students and faculty can express themselves freely without fear of harassment.

“The administration is devoted to addressing antisemitism and highly regards Professor Hassner. We are in discussions with him regarding his concerns and requests,” stated Dan Mogulof, the assistant vice chancellor.

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