University Prez Suspended for Caving to Anti-Israel Agitators

Mike Lee
Mike Lee | Image by Sonoma State University/Facebook

The chancellor of the California State University system suspended the president of Sonoma State University on Wednesday after he made a deal to meet anti-Israel campus agitators’ demands.

On Tuesday, Mike Lee, the university’s now former president, sent out a campus-wide e-mail announcing the concessions he made following meetings held between senior administrators and anti-Israel students and faculty.

The discussions resulted in four points of agreement:

An advisory council would be created for the Students for Justice in Palestine organization on campus. The council would consist of students, faculty, staff, administrators, and alums and meet regularly with campus administration and researchers.

Officials would review all Sonoma State University (SSU) investments and determine “divestment strategies that include seeking ethical alternatives.” Afterward, a Disclosure Statement would be posted displaying funding amounts, the use of funding, and conditions attached to the funds.

SSU would not participate in any study abroad programs or other programs sponsored by Israel.

A Palestine Studies program would be developed.

Lee ended the e-mail with a call for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza.

“Both SSU Students for Justice in Palestine and I, President Mike Lee, oppose and condemn all acts of genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, antisemitism, and other activities that violate fundamental human rights,” the e-mail read. “And thus, I call for a cease-fire so that a process for permanent, peaceful resolution can be established.”

CSU Chancellor Mildred García placed Lee on administrative leave, saying Lee sent the e-mail “without the appropriate approvals.”

“Our role as educators is to support and uplift all members of the California State University. 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,” said García in a statement Wednesday. “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.”

Lee was quick to issue an apology. In an e-mail sent to SSU students, faculty, and staff shortly after he was placed on leave, Lee said, “My goal when meeting with students at the encampment was to explore opportunities to make meaningful change, identify common ground[,] and create a safe and inclusive campus for all. I now realize that many of the statements I made in my campus-wide message did just the opposite.”

Lee admitted that the message was sent without the approval of García or other CSU leaders. “The points outlined in the message were mine alone, and do not represent the views of my colleagues or the CSU,” he said.

García said that the situation is actively being reviewed, and additional details will be provided in the future. For now, Dr. Nathan Evans, deputy vice chancellor for academic and student affairs and chief academic officer, will step in as president of SSU.

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