Sonoma State president on administrative leave after announcing agreement with protesters

ByCornell Barnard KGO logo
Friday, May 17, 2024
Sonoma State president on leave after agreement with protesters
Sonoma State President Mike Lee has been placed on administrative leave after saying the school would disclose university vendor contracts.

ROHNERT PARK, Calif. (KGO) -- The school year is ending in controversy at Sonoma State University. President Mike Lee was placed on leave for 'insubordination' after sending out campus-wide message saying an agreement had been reached with pro-Palestinian student protesters.

The message by Sonoma State University President Ming-Tung "Mike" Lee was issued "without the appropriate approvals," said Mildred García, chancellor of the 23-campus CSU system, in a statement Wednesday.

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Garcia's added, CSU's mission is to create an inclusive environment, not marginalize one community over another.

In his original message, Lee endorsed student activism, protest and dissent.

"None of us should be on the sidelines when human beings are subject to mass killing and destruction," Lee had said Tuesday in announcing that an Advisory Council of Students for Justice in Palestine was being established at Sonoma State.

The Jewish Community Relations Council says it fully supports putting Lee on leave.

"I think they did the right thing, he lost the confidence of the Jewish community, I guess most of the campus community in that moment, hope we can identify leadership that can hold all communities suffering because the war over there," said JCRC President Tyler Gregory.

Students for Justice in Palestine posted this message on Instagram, "SSU demands met."

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It's unclear where that agreement stands now. The student encampment is now gone.

"The encampment was peaceful, it sucks the president had to step down because he wanted to meet their demands," said Hodges.

In the second email, Lee issued an apology and affirmed he acted alone without approval from CSU leaders.

"In my attempt to find agreement with one group of students, I marginalized other members of our student population and community," said Lee. "I realize the harm that this has caused, and I take full ownership of it. I deeply regret the unintended consequences of my actions."

It's unclear how long Lee will be gone but the CSU board appointed Dr. Nathan Evans, the deputy vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, as acting president.

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