A gridiron protest hardly delivered Saturday as support for a suspended professor remained drowned out by anti-Israel groups.
As the University of Southern California prepared to take on the University of California, Berkeley, home team hijinks resulted in a nearly ten-minute delay. Though it might be Pro-Hamas season on campuses across that nation, the 50-yard line sit-in’s mistaken agenda was about a wholly different sort of “terrorist” sympathizing.
Clips of the 15 protesters, forming two lines in the middle of the field and refusing to budge, quickly circulated on social media with many suspecting a Middle East message was at hand.
Pro Hamas Protesters have interrupted and stopped the USC vs California College Football game… pic.twitter.com/OoF15wPy3V
— Matt Couch (@RealMattCouch) October 28, 2023
However, a closer look at the shirts bearing the message “Justice 4 Ivonne” and some investigative work revealed the true intent of the group. Orange County Register reporter Luca Evans explained on X, “Asked a Cal campus policeman about this. I thought it may have been related to Israel-Palestine, but the group was protesting the suspension of professor Ivonne [del] Valle…Police officer said protesters are being taken to jail.”
Earlier, he had shared additional footage of the protest and the procession as the group was ultimately carted off with 14 on their way to Alameda County Jail and one en route to juvenile hall over their objections to the ongoing suspension and potential termination of Spanish and Portuguese professor Ivonne del Valle.
— Luca Evans (@bylucaevans) October 28, 2023
Police officers escort protestors off the field after they preventing the start of the USC vs. Cal football game at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023. The protestors were demanding the reinstatement of UC professor Ivonne del Valle. pic.twitter.com/sCykqQ73id
— Jose Carlos Fajardo (@FuzyJoe) October 28, 2023
A detailed report from KQED explained how stretching back to 2018, del Valle had been subject to three investigations over her alleged harassment of another professor resulting in her current suspension.
“Over three investigations, which looked into behavior that began in 2018 and continued through 2022, the university found del Valle had repeatedly harassed, stalked and retaliated against Joshua Clover, an English and Comparative Literature professor at UC Davis, and then violated orders not to contact him,” the outlet explained.
The report went on to state, “Student supporters contend del Valle was acting out of desperation, believing that she is actually the victim of harassment and online stalking. They are preparing to disrupt the Cal football game against the University of Southern California in an undisclosed manner on Saturday.”
Speaking with KQED, del Valle admitted that she had keyed Clover’s car, contacted his friends, committed vandalism near the door of his apartment, posted an image of his partner on the internet, called his office phone no fewer than ten times within 90 minutes and left messages outside his mother’s home like “I raised a psychopath,” over the course of four years.
“I did write outside his door, ‘Here lives a pervert.’ I did that. And again, I’m not proud. If I had the opportunity to do things differently, I would do them differently,” she explained.
The conclusion of a 2019 report stated, “The evidence additionally demonstrates that Respondent monitored, followed, observed, and threatened Complainant, both electronically and in person, and interfered with his property.”
Del Valle was later suspended for nine months following a 2021 investigation after she violated a 2020 settlement agreement to keep her distance from Clover. A subsequent third investigation in 2022 showed she violated the no-contact order again, but the professor had since refused to accept an 18 month suspension and could ultimately be fired pending a determination from the Academic Senate’s Privilege and Tenure Committee.
“My life is completely destroyed. I don’t want UC Berkeley to think that they can do this to a minority woman in order to protect a white, senior professor. It’s not acceptable,” she argued.
While del Valle noted her intent to return to Mexico if she loses her job, the students stated their own intent to support her which included announcing their plans to disrupt the game in advance and their plans to move ahead with a hunger strike.
USC went on to defeat Cal 50-49.
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