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News :: Human Rights : Organizing : Palestine : Race
Over 200 Protesters Oppose Northeastern University's Suspension of Students for Justice in Palestine
18 Mar 2014
Boston, MA- Over 200 protesters from a coalition of 30 student, labor, faith, feminist, LGBTQ, environmentalist, peace, and social justice groups rallied at Northeastern University to oppose the administration's suspension of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).
Attendees heard lively speeches from representatives of co-sponsoring organizations, chanted in support of student speech and against censorship, and marched to the office of University President Joseph Aoun, where students attempted to deliver a petition of over 6,000 signatures, demanding that he reinstate SJP and drop all charges against students. They were not allowed in the building; Associate Dean Robert Jose delivered the petition to Aoun's office on SJP's behalf.

The administration suspended SJP after months of discriminatory restrictions, and today's rally coincided with the hearings of two SJP members who face individual sanctions after leafleting campus earlier this month. They had distributed mock eviction notices, similar to those routinely posted on the homes of Palestinians before their homes are demolished, in campus dorms. The students' intention was to promote dialogue about human rights violations. The two students facing sanctions are women of color, while none of the white students who distributed the leaflets have been targeted.

"We condemn the university's strong-arm tactics as blatant violations of free speech and dangerous attempts to suppress academic debate on campus," said Lisa Stampnitzky, a member of co-sponsoring organization Jewish Voice for Peace Boston. "These administrative actions are discriminatory: SJP has been treated more harshly than other groups who have enacted similar protests."

Members of the now-suspended SJP chapter spoke. "SJP deserves a hearing," said Northeastern Law Student Max Geller. "Nobody deserves police interrogation for passing out political fliers. We don't think we're above the rules, we are simply asking that they be applied equally."

Alumni were also in attendance, including Amir Hamdoun, a co-founder of SJP at Northeastern. "My alma mater has attempted to silence those in solidarity with Palestinians living under military occupation," Hamdoun said. "I'm impressed that the community has responded with unity and resolve."

Northeastern's suspended SJP announced later: "Today, during the disciplinary hearings for the two singled-out SJP students, the Hearing Administrator dropped one of the charges the two young women were facing. Two charges remain pending but the University is backpedaling. The hearings have been suspended and will resume Thursday at 4pm. Our demonstrations and the efforts of our supporters are clearly having an impact. We will continue protesting until all charges are dropped and SJP is reinstated."

Co-sponsors of this rally include: Jewish Voice for Peace Boston, Team Solidarity- the Voice of United School Bus Union Workers, United for Justice with Peace, Massachusetts Peace Action, Vermonters for a Just Peace in Israel/Palestine, Boston University Students for Justice in Palestine, Brandeis University Students for Justice in Palestine, Suffolk Students for Justice in Palestine, Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee, New Hampshire Palestine Education Network, Brown Students for Justice in Palestine, Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine, Boston Coalition for Palestinian Rights, Community Church of Boston, North Shore Coalition for Peace and Justice, Boston College Students for Justice in Palestine, Women's Fight Back Network, Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights, Saints Francis & Therese Catholic Worker of Worcester, Youth Against Mass Incarceration, National Lawyers Guild- Northeastern University School of Law Chapter, Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East- Massachusetts Chapter, Black and Pink, American Jews for a Just Peace, Northeastern University School of Law - Queers United for Radical Rethinking, Northeastern University School of Law - Students for Justice in Palestine, International Socialist Organization, Northeastern Progressive Students Alliance, Students for a Just and Stable Future, Mary Beth Tinker (Plaintiff in the landmark 1969 supreme court case Tinker v. Des Moines), and Ed Childs (Chief Steward of UNITE HERE Local 26)

This work is in the public domain.
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