San Jose University Professor Placed on Leave After Altercation With Protestors

San Jose University Professor Placed on Leave After Altercation With Protestors
A view of San Jose State University in San Jose, Calif., on Oct. 21, 2020. (David Lam/The Epoch Times)
Micaela Ricaforte

A San Jose State University (SJSU) professor has been placed on administrative leave after an altercation with students during a campus protest related to the Israel-Hamas war.

The university’s president, Cynthia Teniente-Matson, informed the school’s community about the Feb. 19 incident in an email the following day, without identifying the faculty member.

“A SJSU employee involved in the altercation has been placed on administrative leave, pending additional review pursuant to campus protocols,” the president stated. “A review of the circumstances surrounding yesterday’s incident is ongoing and other members of the SJSU community may also face administrative action based on reported activities that do not align with campus policy.”

There were no physical injuries reported and no police charges filed, according to the email.

However, Ms. Teniente-Matson warned the community, “I want to be clear—physical altercations or threatening behaviors that jeopardize the safety and security of any member of our university community will not be tolerated.”

The president also affirmed the university’s commitment to free speech.

“Our campus values the right to free speech and respects the academic freedom of our faculty and students,” she stated. “At the same time, we also value the right of everyone in our community to learn in a safe environment that privileges dialogue and engagement. Our campus policies and protocols affirm these commitments and guide our ongoing effort to advance knowledge while also providing safe space for alternative voices to be heard.”

Media Reports Identify Professor

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that another faculty member identified the professor involved in the altercation as history professor Jonathan Roth, the 2019 recipient of the university’s Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes faculty leadership.
According to the Los Angeles Times, video footage of the incident showed a pro-Palestine student attempting to block Mr. Roth from recording the protest on his phone. The professor grabbed the student’s arm and twisted it before other students confronted the man, reported the news outlet. San Jose police officers then escorted the professor away from the scene.

The protest took place during a classroom presentation by guest lecturer Jeffrey Blutinger, a professor at California State University–Long Beach who specializes in Jewish history, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Mr. Bultinger’s guest lecture was called “Constructing a Just Solution: Where Israelis and Palestinians Go From Here,” the Chronicle reported.