Department of Education Investigating San Diego State University After School Condemns Hamas Attacks

The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is investigating San Diego State University (SDSU) after the university shared a statement condemning the October 7 attacks on Israel.

The investigation was launched on January 2.

Following the October 7 attack, SDSU said in a statement, “Throughout this weekend and today, SDSU has been in direct communication with dozens of impacted community members after the horrific reports of killings and kidnappings following the Hamas attacks on Israel during Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, a major Jewish holy day. What is being reported is heartbreaking. We have heard from SDSU community members who have family, close friends and colleagues in the region. Many have spent several terrifying days praying for their safety. Some have not had those prayers answered. We cannot express to you the depths of emotion and anguish we have felt and encountered since Saturday.”

SDSU noted that they condemn any violence against “innocent civilians.”

“We are grieving for all those who are suffering in the wake of this outburst of violence,” the university wrote. “We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, any act of violence, especially those against innocent civilians. We are deeply struck by the sheer scale of the loss of life — of innocent Israelis, Palestinians, and countless others.”

“We also recognize that this follows a long history of loss of life of civilians in this region. It is our utmost priority that SDSU respond by setting a different tone — one of compassion, learning and dialogue and, above all, empathy for what our campus community may be experiencing. To be sure — understanding that the events from this weekend will affect members of our diverse campus in different ways, we are writing to share our encouragement to utilize the support services available to all our students, faculty and staff.”

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at SDSU condemned the university’s statement.

“Students for Justice in Palestine along with students and faculty are deeply hurt and disappointed by the statement released by San Diego State University’s President Adela del la Torre. San Diego State University has failed to acknowledge the emotions and well-being of its Palestinian and Muslim students,” the group wrote on Instagram.

“Many students on this campus come from a Palestinian background, many of whom have lived through or have family who have lived through the ongoing occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the Palestinian people. Many of your very own students share similar stories where their families have been expelled from their homes and forced to flee their homeland.”

The group claims SDSU’s statement resulted in SJP members being “attacked and painted out to be the perpetrator snad oppressors.”

“It pains us to see our own University, which is supposed to be a safe space, turn into a space where we are attacked and painted out to be the perpetrators and the oppressors,” they wrote.

“Is the University planning to recognize the Palestinian and Muslim students’ emotional and mental well-being to renew the commitment to our shared values and mental well-being to renew the commitment to our shared values and principles of diversity, inclusion, and respect?”

The group concluded, ”We are DEMANDING San Diego State University’s President Adela de la Torre and the rest of the faculty to reassess this hateful and divisive rhetoric being spewed all over campus.”