Sonoma State University president placed on leave for controversial message

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Sonoma State University’s president was placed on administrative leave Wednesday for “insubordination” after sending out a campuswide message indicating agreement with pro-Palestinian protesters.

California State University Chancellor Mildred García said in a statement ​Wednesday that President Mike Lee sent the message without proper approvals and that Lee has been placed on leave while the CSU board reviews the matter.

“​Our role as educators is to support and uplift all members of the California State University,” Garcia added in her statement. “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. 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.”

Garcia said Nathan Evans, deputy vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs and chief academic officer, will serve as acting president of Sonoma State.

A community organization at the university called Students for Justice in Palestine posted Lee’s message on social media under the heading “SSU Demands Met.” In his message, Lee said he joined discussions about the protesters’ demands on May 10 and 14. The protesters have been camped out on Person Lawn for weeks.

The message goes on to say the parties reached several points of agreement, including establishing an advisory council of Students for Justice in Palestine, an academic boycott of Israeli institutions, disclosure and divestment of SSU Foundation investments and calls for a cease-fire.

Lee also released a statement Wednesday.

“In my attempt to find agreement with one group of students, I marginalized other members of our student population and community,” Lee stated. “I realize the harm that this has caused, and I take full ownership of it. I deeply regret the unintended consequences of my actions.”

Garcia did not indicate how long Lee would be on leave.

The following is Garcia’s full statement:

“On Tuesday evening, Sonoma State University President Mike Lee sent a campuswide message concerning an agreement with campus protesters. That message was sent without the appropriate approvals. ​

“The Board’s leadership and I are actively reviewing the matter and will provide additional details in the near future. For now, because of this insubordination and consequences it has brought upon the system, President Lee has been placed on administrative l​eave. I want to thank Dr. Nathan Evans, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs and Chief Academic Officer, for serving as acting president of Sonoma State University effective immediately.

​”Our role as educators is to support and uplift all members of the California State University. 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. 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.”

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

(source)