December 14, 2023

Statement on OCR Investigation

The following bulletin was sent to Santa Monica College employees by Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery and Vice President of Student Affairs Michael Tuitasi on Dec. 14, 2023:

Dear SMC Colleagues:

In response to various media requests for more information regarding a U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights’ (OCR) investigation of an incident related to an Associated Students’ Inter-Club Council action in late October, Santa Monica College has provided the following official statement detailing the prompt action taken by college administration. It is pasted below in its entirety for your information; note that the links included provide additional context and background:

On December 4, 2023, Santa Monica College received a letter from the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education asking us to respond to a complaint concerning the Associated Students’ Inter-Club Council (ICC) meeting of October 19, 2023.  When students brought their concerns to the attention of College administrators, the College took prompt action on October 20, 2023 and shared publicly the steps it took to immediately redress a situation in which the Associated Students’ ICC failed to install Students Supporting Israel at SMC (SSI-SMC) as a club. This prompt action demonstrates the college’s commitment to a discrimination-free environment for all students and was acknowledged by SSI-SMC via a post on their official Instagram account that same day. The college stands against all forms of hate, including anti-Semitism. Most recently, on Nov. 7, 2023 the SMC Board of Trustees passed a resolution in support of United Against Hate week which acknowledged the increases in anti-Semitism amid other ongoing acts of hate and discrimination against marginalized groups throughout the nation.

Additional information: On November 2, 2023, SMC Associate Dean of Student Life Thomas Bui and Campus Counsel attended the meeting of the ICC and provided an overview of the ICC’s legal obligations and the reasons the college immediately reversed its unlawful and unconstitutional action. Following the presentation, SSI-SMC was approved by the ICC as a club.

Note: If you receive media inquiries, please forward them to Grace Smith, SMC’s Director of Public Information, via email, at


The college will comply fully with the investigation and share all the facts on hand. We will inform you of any final decision made. This December, OCR has opened similar investigations of other California higher education institutions (UCLA, UC San Diego, and Stanford University).

At SMC, there is no room for intolerance based on race, national origin, ethnicity, immigration status, sexuality, gender, religion, ability, age, or socio-economic status. We take this commitment seriously, and in the past few weeks have redoubled efforts to ensure safety and wellbeing. Heightened support has been provided in the form of ongoing, confidential group spaces (both online and virtual) organized by the SMC Center for Wellness and Wellbeing to which students experiencing distress are referred by staff, in order to receive support (in addition to accessing a 24/7 emotional support hotline); SMC Police Department support for on-campus events and increased, visible patrols; as well as education and training provided to student government leaders & student affairs personnel. As a reminder, college employees can receive free confidential, short-term counseling for a range of concerns—including anxiety and stress—through the EASE program.

During these difficult days, especially for those within our community deeply affected by the daily, harrowing toll of terrorism, war, direct or indirect violence, and social injustice, it is even more imperative that we work together to keep SMC a safe haven for all students and colleagues.

Kathryn E. Jeffery, Ph.D., Superintendent/President & Michael Tuitasi, Vice President, Student Affairs