The Muslim Student Association at San Diego State University recently issued a list of demands directed at the administration, students and political leaders in an effort to combat Islamophobia on campus.
The demands — which include “a zero tolerance policy explicitly for Islamophobic speech and actions” and mandatory “bystander training” for faculty, staff and students — were posted on the group’s Facebook page after a female Muslim student was allegedly attacked by a white man in a campus parking lot on November 19, about a week after the terrorist attacks that killed 130 in Paris.
A campus police report described the aggressor, who hasn’t been caught, as a white man in his 20s who grabbed the female student’s hijab and made racist comments to her, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.
The female student has not been identified publicly, but Hanif Mohebi — executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations-San Diego — said he met with the student and offered comments on her behalf.
“The attacker came at the student from behind and choked her with the hajib, or headscarf,” Mohebi told the Union-Tribune. “He told her, ‘Get out of this country.’ That she was a terrorist and that ‘you people bombed Paris.’”
Several comments on the article suggest that the attack might have been a hoax. But less than a week after the alleged attack, the Muslim Student Association staged an anti-Islamophobia rally that gained the support of hundreds of students.
It was at the rally that the Muslim Student Association presented its list of demands:
The document demands that local, state and federal political leaders “cease their fear mongering anti-Islamic rhetoric” and “recognize that the dehumanization of refugees and scapegoating of the Muslim faith enables an environment for attacks like this to occur.”
The MSA also demanded that students who witnessed the November 19 attack “step forward and help aid in the investigation.”
The university has yet to provide a formal response to the demands, though members of the administration have seen the list and are “meeting internally and with the students to discuss their concerns,” Beth Chee, an SDSU representative, told The College Fix in an email.
University president Elliot Hirsham issued a statement on the attack: “We unequivocally condemn all forms of bigotry and any efforts to intimidate, harm or demean any members of our community.”
In a twist, Jewish students have accused the MSA of rejecting help from Students Supporting Israel.
Another campus group — Students for Justice in Palestine, which helped organize the MSA rally — allegedly rejected the signature of Students Supporting Israel on the MSA’s list of demands.
“When asked why SSI was excluded from the statement, the response was simple and damning: ‘It didn’t serve the interests of the community,’” Anthony Berteaux, vice president of public relations for SSI, wrote in The Jerusalem Post. “A rally that was supposed to serve as a unified solidarity march against hate became politicized and divided.”
“Out of the over 30 organizations that had signed the document, SSI was the only organization to be excluded from the statement,” Berteaux reported.
SDSU has experienced problems with anti-Israel rhetoric. In 2013, the professor of an Arabic language course eliminated the country of Israel on a map, replacing it with “Palestine.” After a pro-Israel student group called Stand With Us demanded action on the part of the university, SDSU released a statement calling the map “inaccurate” and “unacceptable.”