Oberlin Student Solidarity with Fordham SJP
Guest post by Oberlin Students for a Free Palestine and Oberlin Jewish Voice for Peace
Oberlin Jewish Voice for Peace and Oberlin Students for a Free Palestine sends our unequivocal support to Fordham Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and commend their resilience in the face of suppression and censorship.
On January 17, Fordham University denied official organization status to students attempting to form a SJP chapter. Students protested this decision on January 23, and since then Fordham University has pursued disciplinary action against one of the students involved. They denied the student legal counsel or the presence of any other third party during the hearing; nonetheless, the student appeared on February 22 with legal counsel from Palestine Legal, their advisor, and additional faculty. Dean Eldredge, who initially struck down the status request, denied this counsel, insisting on a one-on-one meeting. There is no University policy that requires closed-door disciplinary hearings.
Censorship of pro-Palestinian activism on college campuses is by no means a new phenomenon. Yet in today’s political climate, this work is still the exception to a progressive agenda. We implore President Reverend McShane and the Fordham administration to continue Fordham’s devotion to marginalized groups and perspectives – exemplified by the President’s commitment to undocumented students who entered the United States as children – by granting organization status to Fordham SJP. This request is nothing extraordinary, as there are 175 SJP chapters on college campuses.
Fordham SJP’s battle against censorship and administrative intimidation highlights the delicate state of free speech on college campuses. If the university can no longer encourage expression without manipulating political discourse on campus, then it has failed as an institution of higher education to ensure each student and faculty member’s right to free speech. Today, this failure lies in the disciplinary measures Dean Eldredge has taken against a Fordham SJP member. By singlehandedly acting as accuser, judge, and jury in this case, Dean Eldredge has abandoned any legitimacy in his targeting of SJP. We stand with Fordham SJP’s strength in its fight against the University’s scare tactics.
Last, we applaud Fordham faculty members’ petition on behalf of SJP and the faculty members who accompanied the SJP member to their hearing. Given backlash like this, publicly defending Palestine and Palestinian rights puts many in a precarious position. Oberlin Students for a Free Palestine recognizes this sacrifice and is grateful for those Fordham faculty members’ commitment to Justice, free speech, and academic freedom.