California group calls on universities, state leaders to reinstate canceled commencements amid anti-Israel protests

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California Republican Steve Hilton and former state Sen. Gloria Romero, a Democrat, on Friday jointly called on state colleges and universities to bring classes back to campus, and reinstate graduation commencements that were canceled amid anti-Israel protests. 

“We feel very strongly that nobody has been speaking up for the majority of hardworking students who want and expect to complete their studies in the normal way, to have one of the most important moments of their lives, their commencement, their graduation, carry on as normal instead of it being disrupted by this vocal and sometimes violent minority,” Hilton, a former Fox News host and political adviser, told Fox News Digital on Friday.

“”Instead of standing up to the mob, the people in charge both at UCLA, specifically, the University of California generally — ’cause you see this at other UC campuses — and the political leadership of the state, they’ve done absolutely nothing,” he said. “They’ve done nothing to insist that classes go on as normal.”

Hilton and Romero, who founded the nonpartisan group Golden Together last year to “turn around” California, held a press conference at UCLA on Friday morning, imploring that “the people in charge of California universities say absolutely clearly, ‘Classes are going to come back for the rest of the semester, commencement’s going to go on exactly as planned, Jewish students: their safety and security’s going to be protected, we’re going to reject these demands that we’re seeing now for Jewish cultural community and welfare organizations on campus to be shut down or defunded. We’re going to stand up against the mob and enforce the rule of law.’ That’s what we were demanding today.” 


Pro-Palestinian protesters at UCLA

Anti-Israel protesters at UCLA this week.  (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The two also wrote a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom and Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, claiming a “calamitous absence of leadership” has led to a “needless punish[ment of] students at California’s great public universities.”

The letter continued, “This time, rather than being caused by misguided lockdowns, it is being caused by the bullying and harassment of a minority of students (along with outside agitators) who are selfishly imposing their divisive, extremist — and often racist — ideologies in the name of protests which have already been declared ‘unlawful.”

The Golden Together letter demanded that California leadership ensure, “All graduation and commencement ceremonies proceed as planned between June 13th and 16th.”


Romero told Fox News Digital, “We want to do it in a nonpartisan way. Steve is a Republican, I’m a Democrat.” 

Romero said she is a graduate of a University of California school and did a post-doctoral fellowship at UCLA. 

Protesters at UC Berkeley law school commencement

Anti-Israel protesters hold signs at the UC Berkeley Law School commencement at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, Calif., on Friday.  (Jessica Christian/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

“So it was important for us to go [to UCLA] because we believe in truly the right to protest, Steve and I have both engaged in protests in the past, but not to the point of where you actually suppress the freedom and liberty of the actual physical movement of Jewish students on the campus,” Romero said. 

She added UCLA’s elected leaders have “sadly, shamefully … gone into hiding.”

Hilton told Fox News Digital that UCLA’s campus is “like a ghost town.” 

UC Irvine protesters

Protesters set up an encampment at UC Irvine.  (Qian Weizhong/VCG via Getty Images)

“There’s nobody there studying, it’s shut down and these are the students, remember, who’ve already been punished once before during the lockdowns, also an unnecessary shutting down of their education,” he said. “So, twice now, they’ve been disrupted, and we think it’s completely outrageous. It is a complete absence of leadership.”


“We have to give meaning to ‘Never Forget’ and that means speaking up,” Romero added. 

The governor’s office and the University of California’s Office of the President did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.

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