Earlier this month we posted a story about three students at Florida Atlantic University who had accepted disciplinary action from the university including a “reeducation” curriculum from the pro-Israel group the Anti-Defamation League because they had disrupted an April speech on campus by an Israeli colonel who participated in the Gaza slaughter called Cast Lead four years ago. Among other actions, the students had held up a sign calling the colonel a war criminal. They said they accepted “reeducation” because the alternative was a harsher discipline.
Electronic Intifada also used the term “reeducation” in its headline, and the story was widely reposted.
FAU President Dennis Crudele is pushing back against the reports. He says FAU is a “marketplace of ideas.” If the students accepted disciplinary measures, they did so voluntarily, he says:
The University, as part of its student disciplinary process, provides the option for all students engaged in that process to enter into voluntary resolutions that are mutually agreed upon. Any student that objects to a proposed resolution is free to avail him/herself of the University’s full disciplinary process and is not required to accept any condition as part of that voluntary resolution. Further, reports that the anti-bias and diversity training implemented at FAU constitutes “re-education” training are both offensive and grossly inaccurate.
Then the statement says it’s against FAU policy for any student to disrupt a speaker. Sounds churchy:
not all public demonstrations and assemblies are permitted at all times in all places….University policy thus prohibits protests in campus buildings, other indoor facilities, or athletic or recreational facilities unless specifically permitted in writing by the appropriate University official.
Similarly, demonstrations and assemblies at the University may not interfere with scheduled University ceremonies or events or obstruct or disrupt the continuance of a speaker. You may not like a speaker who is lawfully speaking at an FAU event; you may profoundly disagree with what that speaker has to say; and you may express your disagreement through lawful protest at appropriate times and places on our campus. But you may not interrupt or disrupt the right of that speaker to speak, or the right of the audience to hear.
This simple concept — that one person’s right to free speech may not silence another’s — has been sadly overlooked in the misreporting of the earlier event. A speaker who was lawfully invited to speak on campus was interrupted in the middle of his speech by individuals who disagreed with his message. That is not allowed, so the University took appropriate, measured steps to enable the speaker to finish his speech and to hold accountable those who attempted to deprive the speaker and his audience of their rights.
The University’s actions had absolutely nothing to do with the message of either the speaker or the protestors. Both are welcome to lawfully express their views on our campus, but neither may deny or disrupt the right of the other to do the same.