University of Southern California censures president and dean for their handling of anti-Israel protests and cancellation of start of protests

The University of Southern California faculty this week censured its own president and dean over the administration’s handling of anti-Israel protests and the decision to cancel its senior commencement ceremony.

The USC Academic Senate voted 21-7 to censure University President Carol Folt and Dean Andrew Guzman. Six faculty members abstained from voting, National Review reports.

USC leaders initially canceled the commencement speech of valedictorian Asna Tabassum, who holds pro-Palestinian views and has publicly made anti-Semitic and hateful comments. The ceremony itself was later scrapped in its entirety, with the university claiming its actions were due to security concerns following the arrest of 93 anti-Israel protesters on campus.

There was “widespread dissatisfaction and concern among faculty regarding administrative decisions and communication related to these events,” the censure resolution states. The threats “escalated to the point of creating substantial security and disruption risks early on,” Guzman said in a statement. campus-wide letter on April 15.

Now that the censure resolution has passed, USC will create a task force to investigate university leadership’s response to these events. The working group is expected to present a public report of its findings by September 15, according to the document. Folt and Guzman are expected to cooperate fully with the task force’s investigation.

“I understand that there are many different views among members of the Trojans community regarding our recent decisions,” Folt said in an emailed statement to National Review. “I am committed to working with the Academic Senate and all faculty who were not present at today’s session.”

Instead of holding a grand opening ceremony, which is expected to draw about 65,000 people to campus, USC opted to hold several smaller ceremonies and celebrations over four days, starting Wednesday. Columbia University made a similar decision earlier this week. Before its cancellation, USC’s main graduation ceremony was originally scheduled for Friday.

“Provost Guzman and I welcome the continued engagement with the newly created task force,” Folt said. “For now, our focus is on celebrating the 19,000 graduates of USC’s Class of 2024.”