War in the Middle East and UCR: Community Update

November 27, 2023
Elizabeth Watkins, Brian Haynes, and Alex Nájera
November 27, 2023

Dear UCR Community,


As the Israel-Hamas War rages in Gaza, we recognize that this is an extremely difficult time for many members of the UC Riverside community. The violence in the Middle East combined with the ongoing humanitarian crisis has been felt around the world, while impacting many UCR students, faculty, and staff. Today we write to provide you with a community update. 


Since the Hamas terrorist attack on October 7th we have received a number of emails and phone calls from students, employees, parents, alumni, and community members who want to share their perspectives and the pain they are experiencing. Please know that we are listening and are deeply concerned about our diverse and dynamic university community.


Our campus is not immune to demonstrations as there have been at least five major demonstrations related to conflict in the Middle East. 


During the past six weeks many units on campus have been laboring to ensure the safety and well-being of every campus community member, while enabling space for constitutionally protected speech.


The university has established an ad-hoc group that has met numerous times to discuss campus safety, demonstrations, communications, compliance reporting, and other issues associated with the ongoing tensions. The Emergency Management Policy Group has also met since the onset of the conflict to discuss similar issues. Outreach efforts have also included ongoing conversations with students, faculty, staff, and community members aimed at providing support to both Hillel and the Middle Eastern Student Center. A focus of this outreach has been to provide counseling services primarily to students who have been impacted by the violence in the Middle East.


The university has also supported several important educational programs. On October 18, the ASUCR Senate invited Michael Alexander, professor and Maimonides Endowed Chair, and Muhamad Ali, associate professor of Religious Studies, to provide their insights into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as to discuss the history of the Middle East. On October 31, campus leadership held a facilitated conversation with faculty members to discuss the ongoing challenges in the Middle East and its impact on the campus. In addition, members of UCR leadership attended the Western Region Summit on Anti-Semitism in Higher Education at USC on November 6th and 7th. Further, on November 30th, senior leadership will attend an ACE webinar “Title VI and Anti-Semitism/Anti-Arab Harassment: A Conversation with Catherine Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights.”


UCR condemns acts of intolerance, hate, bias, or discrimination, which violate our principles of community. This includes any acts of anti-Semitism or Islamophobia. Any act of intolerance, hate, bias or discrimination is unacceptable. Persons who are found to violate university policies will be disciplined as appropriate. Unfortunately, we have received several reports over the past few weeks. We are diligently investigating each reported incident. We urge you to report any act of anti-Semitism or Islamophobia at this web portal: https://uctitleix.i-sight.com/portal/Riverside.


Finally, as part the systemwide initiative to combat anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, in the coming weeks we plan to establish a series of educational programs for our campus community to come together and have ongoing dialogue regarding the Middle East. We will also work to better educate and equip students, faculty, and staff about free speech and civil discourse.


Support for students

Counseling and Psychological Services is available for students needing support. Students can call CAPS at 951-827-5531, and select option 2 to schedule an in-person and/or virtual appointment. If students need to speak to a 24/7 crisis counselor immediately, they can call 951-UCR-TALK or 951-827-5531, and select option 1. 


Support for faculty and staff

UCR has partnered with ComPsych, the Faculty Staff Assistance Program provider, to offer services to employees and their household family members, including confidential support, resources, and information for personal and work-life issues. For additional information please visit the following website: https://hr.ucr.edu/human-resources-benefits/faculty-and-staff-assistance-program


Safety at UCR

In the wake of the ongoing conflict, UCR Police and Campus Safety continues to provide additional support throughout the university. In case of emergency contact 911.


The UCR Police non-emergency phone number is (951) 827-5222. This number can also be used by all members of our community to request a safety escort by a member of the Campus Safety Escort Service.