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University President Suspended After Caving to Demands

( – Pro-Palestine protests have ripped across the nation. Students have demanded their universities divest from Israel. One university president caved to pressure and he’s now been suspended.

On Wednesday, May 15, California State University suspended Sonoma State campus President Mike Lee. Chancellor Mildred García issued a statement saying Lee didn’t have “appropriate approvals” to make concessions to the occupants of a pro-Palestine encampment. She accused the Sonoma president of “insubordination.”

Lee told his campus that he would begin an academic boycott of Israel. The study abroad programs the university had in Israel would be removed from its pamphlets. Lee promised to review the Sonoma State Foundation, a campus investment fund, and school contracts to find ties with Israel. He said that the review would help “determine a course of action leading to divestment strategies that include seeking ethical alternatives.” He also agreed to work with the Students for Justice in Palestine by forming an advisory council and allowing it to have a say in some of the school’s decisions.

In a follow-up message to students and faculty on Wednesday, Lee said that he “marginalized” some of the school’s students in an attempt to reach an agreement with the pro-Palestine protesters. He claimed that he didn’t realize the harm he inflicted on the campus and that he deeply regretted the consequences of his actions.

García said Lee is on administrative leave for now, but the university’s board is reviewing the issue and will provide more details later. She said their job as educators is to ensure all of the members of the university feel uplifted, and she was “deeply concerned” about what Lee did and the impact it would have. It’s unclear if the board intends to push for Lee’s ouster, but Chief Academic Officer Dr. Nathan Evans, who is also the deputy vice chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs, will take over as the acting president at Sonoma State.

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