Fordham Alumni Oppose Decision to Ban SJP Chapter

June 7, 2017

Dear President McShane, Vice President Gray, Provost Freedman, and Dean Eldredge:

We, the undersigned Fordham Alums, strongly oppose your decision to ban a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine at our alma mater. We come together to urge you to do the right thing for current students and alumni: reverse the decision and avoid wasting university resources in an unnecessary and costly lawsuit.

We believe that by denying organizational status to Students for Justice in Palestine after the group was approved by the Fordham United Student Government (USG), then by singling out one student protesting this decision for disciplinary action, you contribute to the systemic silencing and punishing ofstudents who choose to exercise their free speech to organize in support for the struggle for justice in Palestine. This repression is all the more worrisome in that it actively colludes with the larger attacks on freedom of expression under our current US president.

As Palestine Legal has explained in their letter to you, President McShane, when Fordham censored SJP, it violated free speech and academic freedom guarantees. Specifically, Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights have noted that “All evidence indicates that the denial [of SJP recognition at Fordham] was based on the viewpoint of students’ message and/or their national origin.” For this reason, Fordham students—represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal—have filed a lawsuit against the school for its refusal to grant club status to Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

Acting in flagrant violation of students’ legal protections has already compromised Fordham’s reputation. We are dismayed to discover that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education included Fordham in its 2017 ranking of “The 10 Worst Colleges For Free Speech.” As alumni, we are deeply concerned that Fordham act to restore its reputation and protect free speech for all its students. The report notes that few universities are as “persistent and brazen” as Fordham University in imposing  “viewpoint-discriminatory justifications for rejecting student groups’ applications to become officially recognized.”

As Fordham alumni, we urge you to reverse the discriminatory denial of organizational status to the Students for Justice in Palestine group. The university should encourage, not repress, students as they engage in critical thinking and organizing on issues that compel their interest and enliven informed debate on campus. We therefore call upon you not to spend precious resources on a legal defense when you have the capacity and support to follow your own rules–and to support freedom of speech–without a Palestinian exception.

Sincerely,

Marlene Swartz, 1997
Maya Foldes, FCRH 2001
Michael Suppe, 2010
Robert Schultz FCRH 1970
Gregory Rosasco, GSAS, 1970
Dr. William Tajibnapis, FC ’68
Douglas McNeill, 1973
Hugh Grady, FC ’69
James Keenan 1970
John Lawrence Ré,  Rose Hill, Class of 1970
Janet B. Foley, 1971
Edward L.Milton, GSSS 2008
Rachel Field, FCRH 2015
Mohan Seshadri, FCRH 2016
Danielle Shtab, FCRH 2016
Scott McDonald, FCRH 2012
Michael Pappas, FCRH 2012
Lyneisha Dukes, Class of 2016
Frances O’Connell, FCRH 2011
Cristina Rivera Chapman, FCLC 2002
Ann Schroeder, MBA class of 1992
Amelia Tuminaro, Fordham Law, 2003
Joseph Muller, FCLC 2002
Mai Abdeljaber, 2008
Jason Visco, 2008
Pascale Seigneurie 2015
Heather Day, 2014
Jackson Katz, GSSS 2014
Leah Plasse, GSSS 2012
Anne Lieberman, FCLC 2009
Robert Delgado, GSB 2011
Sarah Leberstein, Fordham Law, 2008
Sharon McGuire, Esq. Fordham University School of Law 1989
Claudia Bennett, 2017
Micah Bucey, FCLC 2002
Maria Kouvaras Bouzalakos 2016
Stephen J McClure 1966 BA 1967 MA
Mildred skoldberg Gorman  1958
Julia St. John, FCLC 2008
Manal J. Zoabi, PhD 2012
Zuhair Nashr, FCLC 2006
Sarah Kamens, PhD in Clinical Psychology 2016
Genevieve Izzo, 2018
Damyury Almonte, FCRH 2009
Manal J. Zoabi, PhD 2012
Zuhair Nashr, FCLC 2006
Sarah Kamens, PhD in Clinical Psychology 2016
Genevieve Izzo, 2018
Heather Schatten, PhD 2014
Bojun Hu, PhD 2016

Add your name: http://tinyurl.com/fordhamalum4sjp

Photo: Joe Catron

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