Task Force cited as reason for Drake Town Hall meeting with the Jewish community

UCI chief meets with Jewish groups

Chancellor encourages community involvement against incidents of perceived hate speech on campus.

By JORGE BARRIENTOS

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

IRVINE – UC Irvine Chancellor Michael V. Drake told several hundred concerned Jewish community members Wednesday night to join in on discussions and work together against what he calls isolated incidents of anti-Jewish speech by outsiders on campus.

Drake answered questions during a 90-minute town hall meeting at Shir Ha-Ma’alot in Irvine addressing concerns about what the Jewish community calls ongoing anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity on UCI’s campus.

“We promote dialogue, understanding, growth and tolerance at UCI,” Drake said. “I’d like to enlist all of you in working with me to make Jewish life on campus as strong as possible.”

The meeting comes after a February decision by the Hillel Foundation of Orange County, a Jewish group, to form a task force to investigate what it called “a growing number of anti-Semitic incidents” at UC Irvine.

Drake, who maintained throughout the night that presentations on campus sponsored by Muslim student groups constituted free speech, was invited by several Orange County Jewish groups.

Here are a few questions, with responses by Drake:

Why is it that you personally don’t exercise your right to free speech and speak directly to statements made on campus?

“We have 1,000 guest speakers on campus every year. Could I evaluate them and say this one is anti-Semitic? I could not. What I could say is that as a person and a campus, we abhor hate speech, period.”

Right now, my kids don’t want to go to your school. With the activity on campus, why should my kids go to your school?

“It’s an outstanding educational institutional. If you talk to our students, they will tell you how much they love their experience here. (These incidents) are not every other day. It’s a couple of times a year. And they’re from people coming from off campus. It just got more media attention.”

Is there a place on campus that does not tolerate anti-group speech on campus?

“There are 26,000 students on campus. I want every student on campus to know that this is their home. I want them to feel secure, and feel that is their home.”

Contact the writer: jbarrientos@ocregister.com or 949-553-2913

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