Breaking BDS-related news from UCLA

July 20, 2016

Milan Chatterjee, a Hindu-American, is currently a 3rd year law student at UCLA and the president of the Graduate Student Body. He has met with the Wiesenthal Center recently to describe a harrowing tale. The young scholar has been being bullied and harassed by campus members of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. To make things even worse, UCLA school officials not only refused Milan any assistance, but instead investigated and blamed him in his capacity as a student leader.

Aron Hier, the Center's Campus Outreach Director, has reached out to top UC Regents to help redress this outrageous and dangerous precedent. If you would like to send Milan a statement of solidarity as we try to help him please send it to: iact@wiesenthal.com and we will share it with him.

The following is Milan's account of events:

My name is Milan Chatterjee and I served as UCLA’s Graduate Student Body President for the 2015-16 term. I’m entering my third year at UCLA School of Law. For the past 7 months, I've been relentlessly harassed by the "Boycott, Divest, and Sanction Israel" (BDS) movement; especially through the organization "Students for Justice in Palestine” (SJP). In October 2015, my administration received a funding request for $2,000 to finance a Diversity event featuring Jerry Kang, UCLA’s Vice Chancellor of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Since the BDS movement has been rampant at UCLA, a member of my cabinet had concerns about the movement’s engagement in this event, which would hurt the sentiments of the Jewish student body. I agreed that this member’s concern was legitimate. Hence, we made it clear to the organizer that both Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine students can participate in this event. Nonetheless, a condition of us providing funding is that the Graduate Student Association cannot sponsor the BDS platform, or any counter movement.

The organizer accepted the funding, and held the event with the involvement of both Pro-Israel and Pro-Palestine students. However, they turned around and selectively distributed correspondence to the ACLU and Palestine Legal for a Pro-BDS PR campaign. ACLU and Palestine Legal then circulated a legal letter, falsely accusing me of engaging in viewpoint discrimination. This letter was circulated to pro-BDS blogs and publications (e.g., Mondoweiss and Electronic Intifada) and the Daily Bruin (UCLA’s Student Newspaper). All of these publications targeted me, and continued the false rhetoric that I engaged viewpoint discrimination. This accusation has been thoroughly debunked by Dean Erwin Chemerinsky. The UCLA administration refused to provide me with any counsel or support when I was being targeted by BDS’s national legal and media campaign.


BDS activists have also filed harassing complaints against me with UCLA, for which the UCLA’s Office of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion investigated me. This investigation occurred in spite of the fact that UCLA administrators knew and approved the funding condition. Dennis Prager’s organization circulated a petition calling for this investigation to shut down, which received over 11k signatures. With the nonstop attacks, I’ve been required to get legal representation. Hence, Glaser Weil (a prominent LA law firm) is providing me with legal representation, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Chairman, Dean Schramm is co-representing me.

On June 2016, UCLA released a report to me and SJP—since they were a complainant—finding that I was not viewpoint neutral in allocating funds, which they claim violated UCOP policy. My attorney has carefully reviewed the report and found it to be “deeply and fatally flawed” for a number of reasons.

First, the UCOP policy that UCLA claims I violated does not apply to students (like myself). Rather, it applies to the UCLA campus, requiring them to create policies and procedures to ensure viewpoint neutrality in the funding of student activities. UCLA has failed to enact these policies and procedures. The UCLA General Counsel has even gone on record stating that UCLA is conducting an extensive review of its current policies to ensure that they reflect viewpoint neutrality, and that the UCOP policy in question is fully implemented, which is currently not the case. UCLA made a gross error by applying a policy to me (as a student) that only applies to UCLA as a campus. Moreover, UCLA was the entity that violated this policy by not enacting policies and procedures that follow UCOP policy. Rather than correcting this violation, UCLA chose to shift the blame onto me.

Second, the report demonstrated that a number of UCLA administrators were negligent in this entire process by being completely non-responsive to the request for guidance from students regarding this funding condition. If the administration had concerns about the condition, they had clear opportunities to take pre-emptive action. They chose not to do so. In spite of the report acknowledging administrative negligence, UCLA has chosen not to hold its administrators accountable, and has instead shifted the blame onto me.

Third, the UCLA investigation process denied me procedural due process rights, which I am entitled to under UC policy.

Fourth, the investigators did not give consideration to extensive evidence demonstrating that the funding stipulation presented was viewpoint neutral. The report also fails to take into consideration that a UCLA administrator expressly informed me that the funding condition was legal.

Fifth, The UCLA report was clearly marked confidential and the administration provided policies that prevented the use of the report in a retaliatory manner. In spite of these conditions, SJP openly leaked this confidential report through its website and to the Daily Bruin student newspaper, in an effort to defame me. I filed a complaint with the administration to investigate the leakage and take necessary action, but the UCLA administration declined to do so.


The Wiesenthal Center and other Jewish groups are doing their best to defend and assist this wonderful young man, whom we have personally met with.

For further information contact the Public Relations Department at 310.553.9036 , join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).