Bay Area/ North SF Bay Area/ Family & Kids
AI Assisted Icon
Published on May 16, 2024
Sonoma State University President Placed on Leave Amidst Pro-Palestine Protester Agreement FalloutSource: Google Street View

The president of Sonoma State University, Mike Lee, found himself in hot water and on administrative leave after leapfrogging protocol with a contentious agreement favoring pro-Palestine campus protesters. Lee's declaration stressed solidarity with the demonstrators, agreeing to an academic boycott of Israeli universities, implementing a Palestinian curriculum, and a financial review of the university's investments in companies with Israeli ties. This move, made public in a campus-wide message on Tuesday, was celebrated as a victory among the protesters, as reported by Times of San Diego.

Responding to the unilateral action, CSU Chancellor Mildred García declared Lee's administrative leave, pinpointing his lack of required approvals as insubordination causing strife within the system. “I want to acknowledge how deeply concerned I am about the impact the statement has had on the Sonoma State community, and how challenging and painful it will be​ for many of our students and community members to see and read,” García said, emphasizing the university's dedication to inclusivity, according to a statement released on Wednesday.

Dr. Nathan Evans, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, stepped up to the plate as the acting president of the institution following the controversy, according to NBC Bay Area. As universities across California are hit with protests, authorities have been dispatched to quell the protests characterized by students' opposition to the devastation ushered in by Israel's military operations in Gaza. Arrests and suspensions have been sprinkled across the campuses as a result.

California State University, the largest four-year public university system in the U.S., has been left to navigate this political minefield as it strives to maintain an equitable environment for a student body rich in diversity. “The heart and mission of the CSU is to create an inclusive and welcoming place for everyone we serve​, not to marginalize one community over another,” García underscored in her statement. CSU prides itself in sending nearly 127,000 career-ready graduates annually to bolster the nation’s workforce, a testament to the institution’s impact and societal contribution.