New York, NY, September 1, 2016 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is deeply disturbed to learn that the past president of the UCLA Graduate Students Association has decided to leave the university due to what he describes as a “hostile and unsafe campus climate” created in part by outspoken anti-Israel activists.
Milan Chatterjee, a third-year law student at UCLA, on August 24 informed the school chancellor of his decision to leave the university and finish his UCLA law degree at New York University School of Law. In a letter that was made public earlier today, he alleged that since November 2015 he has been “relentlessly attacked, bullied and harassed by BDS-affiliated organizations and students” and that the harassment had become intolerable.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO, who taught at the UCLA business school as an adjunct faculty member from 2006 to 201l, issued the following statement:
Regardless of his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Milan Chatterjee’s decision to leave UCLA in the face of attacks by anti-Israel student groups is deeply disturbing. No student should have to endure the kind of bullying and vitriol he describes. If the allegations are true, it is troubling that anti-Israel student activists are creating an environment where students do not feel safe.
As students return to campus this fall, we are concerned about the climate for Jewish and pro-Israel students at UCLA. ADL has close ties to UCLA and has done a number of trainings for students, faculty, service employees, administrators and law enforcement. These trainings are designed to defuse tension and create opportunities for dialogue. We are reaching out to UCLA administrators to voice our concerns directly, as well as to offer ADL additional programs such as Words to Action and renewed law enforcement training.
Even as we are troubled by this situation, we appreciate that UCLA’s response made clear that it does not support divestment from Israel and remains proud of and committed to upholding academic and cultural relationships with Israeli institutions. It also reiterated that the UC Board of Regents was ‘firmly committed to freedom of expression, association and debate for all regardless of viewpoint, ethnic background or religious affiliation.’ We encourage UCLA administrators to continue to speak out against hateful rhetoric and take concrete steps to address allegations of bullying and harassment on campus.
ADL’s Words to Action, one of the programs ADL already provided at the UCLA campus, is an interactive education program for college and pre-college students designed to empower and equip them with constructive and effective responses to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias on campus.