Sacramento State’s unique approach helps bring peaceful end to campus protest

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Sacramento, California – Earlier this week, Sacramento State University President Luke Wood oversaw a peaceful end to a campus protest on the Israel-Hamas war, one of many that have taken place at universities across the country in recent weeks.

The Sacramento State camp went down, not with violence, but with dialogue.

“We want to take the time to thank Luke Wood for not following suit in other administrations and not calling the Sacramento Police,” one student said at a news conference Wednesday.

“That's what a lot of students are really looking for, is to take a moral stand on what's going on in the world,” Wood told CBS News.

Wood, 42, who says he tries to lead with empathy, grew up in foster care, endured bouts of hunger and homelessness and graduated from the school he now oversees.

“I conducted 92 listening sessions, each 75 minutes long, with over 1,500 of our students, faculty and staff,” Wood said.


The President of Sac State explains how the camps fell peacefully

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On April 29, the pro-Palestinian camp began in the quad of the school's library.

“I have to tell you first how I feel as a person, as an individual, and really as a black man, I have a higher level of anxiety,” Wood said. “When people are afraid, they respond with a protected mechanism, which does not always lead to the best results.”

The protest finished Wednesday, as the university shared a new policy in which it “directs its adjuncts … to research socially responsible investment strategies that include not having direct investments in corporations and funds that profit from genocide, ethnic cleansing and activities that violate fundamental human rights”.

Wood reiterated this to CBS News we are not investing in students' futures by establishing relationships with companies that profit from war.”

Although he is concerned about the possibility of losing the support of some donors and state lawmakers, Wood is confident in his decision to support the new policy.

“I really care what our donors think,” Wood said. “I care deeply about what our legislators think. But ultimately, my responsibility is the health, safety and learning and development of this campus.”

Political science teacher Sarah Bukhari, who was inside the camp, said she not only raised her voice, but also found her voice.

“I feel heard,” Bukhari said. “I'm not going to lie to you. I cried a couple of times. I'm 29 years old, and my whole life, no one has asked me what I thought about US-Arab relations.”

That's exactly the sentiment Wood hopes to foster.

“The message here is to create an environment where people can engage in honest and open dialogue, without being vilified or written off,” Wood said.



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