SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The controversy over anti-Muslim fliers posted at San Diego State University resulted in a meeting Monday morning between students and school officials, in which they agreed to review university policies to ensure a balance between freedom of expression and protection from harassment.
The two-hour meeting came after a protest last week in which students surrounded the car of SDSU President Elliot Hirshman, criticizing what they
believed was a tepid response to posters displayed on campus that identified by name seven students who allegedly allied themselves with Palestinian terrorists and promote hatred of Jews.
Following the meeting, SDSU issued a joint statement under the names of Hirshman, Vice President of Student Affairs Eric Rivera, student leader Mustafa
Alemi, Osama Alkhawaja and Rachel Beck of Students for Justice in Palestine and other university officials.
The statement said the participants agreed on some issues and disagreed on others.
"We agree it is critical to protect all members of our university community from harassment as specified in our university Senate policies,'' the
statement reads. ``We agree we are committed to the safety of all members of our community. We also agree on the fundamental importance of freedom of expression.''
Creating the "appropriate balance between freedom of expression and protecting members of our community from harassment,'' as in the case of the fliers, poses a ``significant'' challenge, the statement says.
"The parties have agreed that in collaboration with (the Associated Students) and under the aegis of the university Senate, they will undertake a
review of university policies to ensure we are balancing freedom of expression and protection from harassment,'' the statement says.
The meeting attendees agreed that in cases of racism, islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of bigotry, "we abhor the content of such
expressions, even as we recognize the protected status of these expressions,'' according to the statement.
They also said they re-affirm their commitment to "supporting an environment that fosters meaningful dialogue and mutual respect.''
At the bottom of the fliers that contained the student names was a link to the Horowitz Freedom Center, the organization run by David Horowitz, who is
scheduled to speak Thursday at SDSU on combating anti-Semitism on college campuses.
San Diego State University has issued the following statement:
"In response to concerns expressed by the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine regarding recent posters on our campus, members of our student body met today with President Hirshman, Doug Deutschman University Senate Chair; Jamie Miller, AS President and other members of the university administration.
During our time together we had a full discussion, both agreeing and disagreeing on various issues. We agree it is critical to protect all members of our University Community from harassment as specified in our University Senate policies. We agree we are committed to the safety of all members of our community. We also agree on the fundamental importance of freedom of expression.
Creating the appropriate balance between freedom of expression and protecting members of our community from harassment, as in the current case where students were named individually on a flyer posted on our campus, poses a significant challenge. The parties have agreed that in collaboration with AS and under the aegis of the University Senate, they will undertake a review of university policies to ensure we are balancing freedom of expression and protection from harassment.
We concluded by agreeing that in cases where racism, islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia and all forms of bigotry result, we abhor the content of such expressions, even as we recognize the protected status of these expressions. Finally, we re-affirm our commitment to supporting an environment that fosters meaningful dialogue and mutual respect."
An additional statement was issued by San Diego State University College Republicans in wake of the recent protests:
"The San Diego State College Republicans were not aware of the flyers being posted on campus and does not know who is responsible for posting them.
Our event hosting Mr. David Horowitz is still on for this week and we will not be silenced by the upcoming protests held by the Muslim Student Union. We reserve the right to utilize freedom of speech as we also recognize the same right to demonstrators and their right to peaceful assembly. The difference between our club and the GOP versus any other club is that our club unabashedly stands by Israel as allies to the United States as the Republican Party has throughout history.
Even when there are tensions between student organizations, the underlying message and theme throughout these events is that Anti-Semitism anywhere, especially on college campuses, is inexcusable and the BDS movement will always be contrasted by our allegiance to defending Israel and Judaism from verbal and symbolic attacks."
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