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A War on Campus: ‘Democracy Now’ covers the Northeastern SJP suspension (Updated)

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Democracy Now interviews Max Geller and Ali Abunimah on  A War on Campus? Northeastern University Suspends Students for Justice in Palestine Chapter.

In an episode also covering the bombardment of Gaza as well as the recent killings of six Palestinians by Israeli forces, it’s a dramatic, important interview adding to a discussion that has exploded over the last two days.

Screenshot: Democracy Now Max Geller/SJP activists  March 13, 2014

Screenshot: Democracy Now Max Geller/SJP activists March 13, 2014

Geller states SJP has been suspended at Northeastern because authorities  could not control the organization.

After numerous attempts to repress SJP activities on campus, the students took direct action:

Geller: Prior to our official suspension we were suspended in everything but name, we were constantly thwarted and deprived of funding .. events moved around and roadblocks were put up. The only recourse we had, the only activity we could engage in was direct action where we didn’t need university funding or university space…we went door to door and slipped mock eviction notices..

Amy Goodman: Why?

Geller: We wanted to simulate the common Palestinian experience to find your residency and existence has been criminalized.

Ali Abuminah Democracy Now March 13, 2014

Ali Abuminah Democracy Now March 13, 2014

Abuminah states this is a “war on campus” being waged by administrations and pro Israel organizations. It’s about “shutting down the discussion,” a “free speech emergency”.

Free speech is losing out to support for Israel on our campuses when administrations are left in charge of people’s rights. That’s why we have to stand by the students at Northeastern and all over this country.

A great interview. “BDS is changing the equation”. We’ll get more of the transcript up when it comes in.

Updated:

AMY GOODMAN: On the—at the student level, polls show across the country that especially young Jewish students are much more now critical of the state of Israel and identifying with the plight of Palestinians.

ALI ABUNIMAH: Exactly, because young Jewish students in this country, like all young students, identify with universal human rights and equality. And that’s why we’ve got legislatures in New York, in Illinois, in Maryland, even the United States Congress now, considering bills to penalize universities if students or faculty express support for the Palestine solidarity movement in the form of the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. It really is a free speech emergency. And just this week in New York City, at Columbia University, at Barnard College, students had gotten permission—they had gone through all the authorizations to put up a banner that said, “Stand with Justice in Palestine,” and the university administration took it down after complaints from pro-Israel groups and basically said, “We’re not going to allow any more banners.” Free speech is losing out to support for Israel on our campuses, when administrations are left in charge of people’s rights. That’s why we have to stand by the students at Northeastern and all over this country.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, and meanwhile, Israel has launched its most intense bombing of the Gaza Strip since the assault of late 2012. Around 30 Israeli attacks have hit Gaza since Wednesday, following a barrage of Palestinian rocket fire. No casualties have been reported on either side. The group Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks in what it called a response to earlier Israeli strikes that killed three people. More rockets have now been fired from Gaza as the flare-up continues for a third day. Ali, could you talk about this latest—this latest escalation in the actual conflict there?

ALI ABUNIMAH: Well, you mentioned the November 2012 assault by Israel, which killed 170 Palestinians. That ended with a ceasefire agreement between Israelis and the Palestinian resistance factions in Gaza. Israel has incessantly violated that ceasefire and has been escalating its so-called targeted killings, extrajudicial executions, in recent weeks. And I think what we saw yesterday was an attempt by Palestinian groups in Gaza to say, “Look, if Israel keeps violating the ceasefire, we have the capacity to hit back.” But I don’t think there’s anyone in Gaza that wants to see a total breakdown of the ceasefire agreement.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the so-called peace talks between Israel and Palestine that John Kerry is presiding over? How much faith do you put in them, Ali?

ALI ABUNIMAH: As much as John Kerry, which is none. I mean, John Kerry was caught by a reporter the other day, in a private moment, saying that his talks with Netanyahu were going absolutely nowhere. I think the significant thing and what’s really happening now is, you know, look at the fact that when Netanyahu was speaking to the Israel lobby AIPAC, he spent a third of his speech condemning the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, because this is really what’s changing the equation. It’s grassroots activism in this country, in Palestine and all over the world.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, it’s an interesting quote. When the prime minister of Israel addressedAIPAC, he said, “Those who war the BDS label should be treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite or bigot. They should be exposed and condemned. The boycotters should be boycotted.” I want to go back to Max Geller. The equating of those critical of the Israeli state or the Israeli military with being anti-Semitic or being a bigot, your thoughts on that?

MAX GELLER: I mean, especially in the university context, it’s deeply troubling. It’s deeply troubling to demonize a viewpoint before one can debate it, especially in a university context. The Israeli-Palestinian question remains difficult to answer. And if those answers are not going to come from the academy, I don’t know where they’re going to come from. And to render a certain subject taboo is to deprive the students on campus of important perspectives when they—crucial to making informed decisions. It’s very troubling.

And, Amy, I think it’s really important to understand that Northeastern students put up fliers where they’re not supposed to every day. Every day, every student at Northeastern walks by fliers that weren’t authorized to be put up. But the only time you ever hear about students being disciplined for it is when the content contains pro-Palestinian messages.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Max, what are the plans for your group? Are you going to challenge this ban at all, or how are you going to continue to function or operate in the future?

MAX GELLER: Well, I’m pleased to say that the outpouring has been overwhelming. We received in less than 24 hours over 3,500 signatures to our petition. And we are right now considering the most spectacular way of delivering this petition to the president’s door. We have had student groups who are pretty apathetic. I mean, the—politically speaking—the debate team has offered to engage in a walkout of class on SJP’s behalf, and it’s been really inspiring and moving. But we are still trying to figure out the best way to sort of catch this lightning in a bottle and force the university’s hand.

AMY GOODMAN: Ali Abunimah, we just have about 45 seconds. The title for your book is The Battle for Justice in Palestine. Do you hold out any hope?

ALI ABUNIMAH: Well, I hope people will look at this book, because while I think the battle is raging in Palestine and in this country and on campuses and everywhere where people are gathering, I have a lot of hope. And in the end, this is a book about what the future looks like, a future based on equality, anti-racism and decolonization in Palestine, where everyone can live, because people are sick and tired of this conflict and the violence that comes with it.

Full transcript at Democracy Now.

annie
About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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41 Responses

  1. Krauss
    Krauss
    March 13, 2014, 2:41 pm

    It’s a noteworthy comment when Max Geller, the chairperson of SJP-Northeastern, says that the are unauthorized flyers on campus all the time but only when it is Palestinian solidarity work, then it is shut down.

    Charles Jabobs, the founder of “Americans for Peace and Tolerance” and “The David Project” has even produced several entire mini-documentary about Northeastern, where they attack the university for having a professor that includes Walt & Mearsheimer’s book on the lobby as ‘anti-Semitic’.

    So Mr. Jacobs seems to be doing his personal Jihad against Northeastern, and he probably gets a lot of donors to pressure the university.

    As always, the roots of the anti-BDS movement is about rich bigots á la Adelson and the hapless university administration bending over backwards because they want that money at all costs.

    • annie
      annie
      March 13, 2014, 3:00 pm

      Max Geller, the chairperson of SJP-Northeastern, says that the are unauthorized flyers on campus all the time but only when it is Palestinian solidarity work, then it is shut down.

      thanks for mentioning that krauss. literally every segment of these interviews are crucial/excellent. it just takes so long to transcribe and i wanted to get it up. but i hope everyone watches.

  2. Susie Kneedler
    Susie Kneedler
    March 13, 2014, 3:10 pm

    Thanks, Annie.
    Jewish Voice for Peace has asked supporters of free speech to call NEU President Aoun’s office: http://org.salsalabs.com/o/301/p/salsa/web/common/public/signup?signup_page_KEY=7807.

    I spoke with two very kind people (my first call was dropped by cell co.): 617.373.2101. Thanks to both NEU representatives.

    • adele
      adele
      March 13, 2014, 4:22 pm

      thanks Susie for the info.

      Max Geller mentioned in the interview that they are currently planning an action to deliver the petition to the university president. I’ve reached out to SJP asking if the public (i.e., non-NU students) can join them when they do so and am waiting for a reply. I am sure, given the support that they have received via the petition (close to 4,300 signatures in 48 hours), that many individuals who are in the immediate area would like to join their petition delivery as a way to further show our support.

    • Kathleen
      Kathleen
      March 13, 2014, 6:39 pm

      thanks susie will make call tomorrow. Friday. And is often the case Democracy Now covers critical issues that the MSM will not even whisper about.

  3. dbroncos
    dbroncos
    March 13, 2014, 4:34 pm

    Just got off the phone with President Aoun’s office. I encourage everyone here to call and make some noise. It takes less than 5 minus. Call today!

  4. chuckcarlos
    chuckcarlos
    March 13, 2014, 6:28 pm

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    “The freedom of assembly and petition also covers marching, picketing and pamphleteering.” From the pages of United State Senate.

    Sue the hell out of the f’kers….Getting damned tired of the ADL, Simon Wiesenthal , AIPAC telling folks what to think…sue the bastards

    ask the Witnesses…it took some time but we all profit from their lawsuits for their freedoms…One can proselytize until the cows come home door to door, not salute the damn flag, and not have to swear any oaths that you do not feel suit your conscience…

    sue the pricks

    • March 14, 2014, 8:11 am

      No mention of this at all on the local 11:00 Pm news last night.

      There was a story about “shocking anti-Semitism” on some school’s playground, however. WE do get a weekly story about some shocking local act of anti-Semitism of late it seems. I did not watch the story last night but it is usually some kids who drew swastikas in the woods or an abandoned house or some such thing. I don’t recall getting all these “news stories” years ago.

    • JeffB
      JeffB
      March 14, 2014, 10:49 am

      @chuckcarlos

      Everyone should be able to campaign for any cause they like, absolute free speech for all humans. Which is why when the ADL or Wiesenthal or AIPAC campaign for causes they like they should be sued. Because Jews after all should never have equal rights because we know they aren’t really human.

      • annie
        annie
        March 14, 2014, 2:05 pm

        oh please, the ADL or Wiesenthal or AIPAC stovepipe their hasbara directly into our mainstream media, they’re opinions are regurgitated time and again with everything that’s reported wrt israel. there’s no parity wrt “Everyone should be able to campaign for any cause” when some peoples thoughts one couldscream from the rooftops and no one would hear, whereas the ADL/Wiesenthal/AIPAC have a megaphone. and don’t snark about “Jews after all should never have equal rights because we know they aren’t really human” when everyone knows they’re rights are far from denied, ever in our society.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        March 14, 2014, 2:32 pm

        @Annie —

        Chuck was the one who argued that such rights shouldn’t exist. I never said they don’t exist under the current situation obviously they do. AIPAC is a solid foreign policy lobby and the ADL has some popular influence. Wiesenthal came from Chuck I wouldn’t have put it on the list.

  5. Kathleen
    Kathleen
    March 13, 2014, 6:54 pm

    I put all of these I/P issues up on my fb page. Any friends I have on fb are people who have asked. I don’t subject folks to my political agenda unless they want it. Small way to get the word out. Will be asking them to make phone calls to NEAdministration.

    Used to call into National media shows like Washington Journal all of the time over the last 15 years. Literally have gotten through hundreds of times about the I/P issue, Iraq, Iran, intelligence issues. Folks this is another great way to get word out.

    Open phones on Washington Journal est 7:00 -7:45. If they have a topic you can share with the screener what you think about the topic and then get in a comment about this issue as well as encouraging folks to come to Mondoweiss or Students for Justice in Palestine in regard to this issue. You can tweet etc or call.

    Remember millions of people listen to these shows. Be friendly, clear and concrete.
    http://series.c-span.org/Journal/
    Democrats: (202) 585-3880 Republicans: (202) 585-3881 Independents: (202) 585-3882 Outside U.S.: (202) 585-3883 – See more at: http://series.c-span.org/Journal/#sthash.GSsJ3evC.dpuf

    Also tomorrow morning will be the weekly round up on the NPR Diane Rehm show. You can get a plug in there too. Am always super clear and polite with screeners as well as once you get on the show. Make a clear comment, give website, information and then ask them why they do not cover issues like this. Give it a shot tomorrow morning. Tomorrow they will be focused on the charges against the CIA by Diane Feinstein. Prepare yourself with a question about this and then bring up the Students for Justice in Palestine campus issue.

    http://thedianerehmshow.org/ Join the show:

    1-800-433-8850
    [email protected]
    Find us on Facebook
    Follow us on Twitter

  6. wondering jew
    wondering jew
    March 13, 2014, 7:38 pm

    I found Amy Goodman’s emphasis on Max Geller’s Jewishness questionable.

    • just
      just
      March 13, 2014, 8:17 pm

      You do?

      I do not.

      She is an American, and a Jewish woman. Let’s go into the archives and witness your contributions……….

      http://mondoweiss.net/2011/10/nyt-features-amy-goodman-and-her-antiwar-record.html

      • chuckcarlos
        chuckcarlos
        March 13, 2014, 8:43 pm

        exactly, who give a damn what in the hell she is…or was, or may be….

        as I “said” before

        Numero UNO

        “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

        and from the halls of the United States Senate

        “The freedom of assembly and petition also covers marching, picketing and pamphleteering.”

        Those are the RULES for all US Citizens and Residents…if you don’t like it, pack your bags and move to a racist fascist country like Israel where they do not respect human rights or civil rights

      • rightcoaster
        rightcoaster
        March 16, 2014, 9:11 pm

        Chuckcarlos, your thinking is badly muddled.

        1. The 1st Amendment says, as you quote accurately, that Congress shall make no law…., etc. Where does it say Northeastern shall make no rule?

        2. Israel is a racist, fascist .. etc? Are you so naive and abysmally ignorant as to really believe that? Go try to spout your views about Israel by substituting Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, for “Israel”, in any of those neighbors, and see what it gets you.

    • adele
      adele
      March 14, 2014, 1:09 am

      I find Israel’s demand that it be recognized as a “Jewish” state questionable.

    • joer
      joer
      March 14, 2014, 7:08 am

      In that case, yonah, you must find Zionism’s obsession with Jewishness absolutely confounding

    • March 14, 2014, 8:13 am

      As do I, but for different reasons.

      You seem to think acknowledging someone’s Jewishness is an act of Jew hatred.

      It bothers me because the real implication is someone’s Jewishness gives them credibility on this topic — as opposed to a Muslim or a Goy

  7. bilal a
    bilal a
    March 14, 2014, 2:28 am

    BTW: Europeans the grandchildren of Nazis Nazi colloborators.
    (Dershowitz)

    [Is this not ethnic hate speech ,blood libel, illegal in the EU? ]

    The Holocaust was perpetrated by Europeans— by Nazi sympathizers and collaborators among the French, Dutch, Norwegians, Swiss, Belgians, Austrians and other Europeans, both western and eastern. If the French government had not deported to the death camps more Jews than their German occupiers asked for; if so many Dutch and Belgian citizens and government officials had not cooperated in the roundup of Jews; if so many Norwegians had not supported Quisling; if Swiss government officials and bankers had not exploited Jews; if Austria had not been more Nazi than the Nazis; the Holocaust would not have had so many Jewish victims. In light of the widespread European complicity in the destruction of European Jewry, the pervasive anti-Semitism and irrationally hateful anti-Zionism that has recently surfaced throughout Western Europe should surprise no one.

    http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-Ed-Contributors/Some-hard-questions-about-the-Western-European-double-standard-against-Israel-345171

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      March 14, 2014, 7:01 am

      Resistance to the Nazis was perpetrated by Europeans, Dutch and Danes, Poles and French, Czechs and Norwegians and Yugoslavs and Greeks. They smuggled Jews to Britain and Switzerland, they carried out espionage and guerrilla attacks. They went to Britain and joined formal armed forces. Some of those Europeans have descendants, too.

    • Ecru
      Ecru
      March 14, 2014, 12:28 pm

      @ bilal a

      The Holocaust was fought against by Europeans—by the enemies of Nazism and Nazi Germany among the French, Dutch, Norwegians, Swiss, Belgians, Austrians and other Europeans, both western and eastern. If the French Resistance had not fought and died more Jews from France would have been shipped off; if so many Dutch and Belgian citizens and government officials had not resisted in the roundup of Jews; if so many Norwegians had not condemned Quisling; if Swiss government officials and bankers had not exploited Nazi sympathisers; if Austrian and German resistance to the Nazis had not existed; then the Holocaust would have had many more Jewish AND OTHER* victims. In light of the widespread European fight against the destruction of European Jewry, the pervasive liberalism and irrational belief in equal rights for all, counter to the basic tenets of Zionism, that Western Europe is known for should surprise no one.

      There – fixed that little blood-libelous screed there.

      *Please note the complete and utter disregard for the other victims of Nazism in the original hate speech that bilal a posted. The utter contempt in which the other victims are treated so that they don’t even register – only Jews are deemed to be worthy of recollection and saving the others are completely unimportant.

      And one last thing – those Jews who died……were they not European too?

    • Ecru
      Ecru
      March 14, 2014, 12:38 pm

      @ bilal a

      Or how about another take?

      The Nakba was perpetrated by Jews— by Zionist sympathisers and collaborators among the French, Dutch, Americans, Swiss, Belgians, Christian Zionists and other Jews, both Ashkenazi and Sephardim. If the French Jews had not sent money and nuclear technology to the Zionist Terrorists; if so many Dutch and Belgian Jews had not supported the expulsion of Palestinians; if so many American Jews had not supported Nutter-yahoo; if Swiss government officials and bankers had not hidden Jewish donations; if American Christian Zionists were not as bigoted as the Zionists themselves; the Nakba would not have had so many Palestinian victims. In light of the widespread Jewish complicity in the destruction of Palestine, the pervasive anti-Muslim and irrationally hateful Islamophobia that has recently surfaced throughout the Jewish Diaspora should surprise no one.

      1…2…3…..ANTISEMITISM!!!! You’ve got to laugh. When possible right in their faces.

    • joer
      joer
      March 14, 2014, 2:26 pm

      Dersh forgot to mention Jewish collaborators, such as the Jewish Councils, Ghetto Police, and others. I guess when he considers the implications of that-using his logic-his hair catches on fire.

    • Woody Tanaka
      Woody Tanaka
      March 14, 2014, 2:47 pm

      One of the many things that are terribly disgusting about the Dersh bag’s statement here (beyond the normal and expected bigotry in ignorning the millions of victims of the Holocaust who were non-Jews–something that is the same as Holocaust denial) is that it wholly and completely ignores the fact that the Europeans were not free of coersion in these matters. The use of the word “complicity” is a vile libel. Helping Jews at that time and place was punishable by death. While we should laud those who risked death to help those targeted, it is inhumane to necessarily condemn those who could bring themselves to do so. This is not to excuse collaborators or those who actively sought to aid the Nazis; I’m talking about those who found themselves forced to choose between the lives of their innocent neighbors and the lives of themselves and their families.

      • Ecru
        Ecru
        March 14, 2014, 4:18 pm

        @ Woody Tanaka

        I’ve noticed that Zionists seem to have an allergy to context, a complete inability to see it it seems.

        Or rather to admit to context since context destroys almost all their arguments and reveals that at core all they’ve got to base things on are ideas of Jewish supremacism and a xenophobic hatred of the “goyim.”

  8. EUR1069
    EUR1069
    March 14, 2014, 5:26 pm

    The way I see it, the students ought to enlist the ACLU & take it all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary. Time to put the foot down, firmly & for good.

    • JeffB
      JeffB
      March 15, 2014, 8:08 am

      @EUR1069

      On what grounds? NorthEastern is private property. Any and all events not taking place with their explicit permission are trespassing. The rules are whatever they say the rules are. They can expel all the SJP students tomorrow or turn around tomorrow and make membership in SJP mandatory for students.

      The board owns it, the board gets to do what they want with it. There is no case.

      • annie
        annie
        March 15, 2014, 9:40 am

        The board owns it, the board gets to do what they want with it.

        not sure that applies in all circumstances. there are little glitches the board may have to work around, like our constitution, bill of rights.

        The rules are whatever they say the rules are.

        according to the information in the interview, it appears the rules may be being applied differently, and in a discriminatory way wrt student’s activism against israel apartheid/bds.

        MAX GELLER: …..

        And, Amy, I think it’s really important to understand that Northeastern students put up fliers where they’re not supposed to every day. Every day, every student at Northeastern walks by fliers that weren’t authorized to be put up. But the only time you ever hear about students being disciplined for it is when the content contains pro-Palestinian messages.

      • just
        just
        March 15, 2014, 9:51 am

        “there are little glitches the board may have to work around, like our constitution.”

        Ms. Annie– you are a real gem! so sharp, so smart, so witty with your gift for understatement.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        March 15, 2014, 11:18 am

        @Annie

        The constitution doesn’t apply to private property. As for discriminatory way. Private institutions don’t have to provide equal access or be fair. Heck NWW a Cisco partner decided they didn’t want me speaking at an event this week to pitch my services and I got kicked out. No one even bothered to pretend that wasn’t discrimination: NWW pays more than you do, bye-bye. That’s what private property is. NU can do whatever they want on their property.

        We can talk about this morally. But legally there is no case.

      • just
        just
        March 15, 2014, 10:00 am

        JeffB– May I suggest a little game that I often use? It’s called: ‘walk a mile in their shoes’, or ‘look in the mirror’, or ‘put the shoe on the other foot’, or ‘have a taste of your own medicine’. It’s called empathy, among other things. It’s also all about truth, and seeking it. Not your particular truth, but the real truth.

        It’s very illuminating, really. Try it.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        March 15, 2014, 11:54 am

        I presume that the ‘eviction notice’ ploy was itself an attempt to play the game you mention, to prick consciences by making people think what it would be like to be in some of the shoes that Palestinians are forced to wear and walk in. Consciences do seem to have been pricked and the reaction is anger.
        Perhaps we for our part have to think what it would be like to be called upon to give up a privilege that we have claimed vigorously and enjoyed on a grand scale. Our reaction might not be pretty or even very rational.

      • just
        just
        March 15, 2014, 12:25 pm

        It is certainly the ‘game’, and I am in total support of the efforts of the SJP!!

        I’ve given up plenty of ‘privileges’ in my life, and never, ever thought to abuse someone else because of it. I might be upset, but nobody has to ‘pay’ for my privileges or lack thereof.

      • Ellen
        Ellen
        March 15, 2014, 10:22 am

        Sure, Jeff, Northeastern can take the stance that it is a private institution and they can do whatever they want. But when operating as a University, it would face loss of federal funding for even a simple research grant, possible fines for unconstitutional policy, the current tax status it enjoys, on and on. In other words it would have to close down as an educational institution. This is the same situation educational institutions faced earlier over admitting women just a few decades ago. Places like the University of Virginia (which only admitted women in the 70s) and The Citadel, etc.

        You can be sure the governing board of Northeastern University is not going to drive it to the ground over preventing the civil rights of a few students.

      • JeffB
        JeffB
        March 15, 2014, 11:22 am

        @Ellen

        Every year for the last few centuries Universities have banned or disciplined all sorts of student groups for misbehavior. They still get grant money, they keep their tax status, there are no fines. Your theory has been experimentally tested hundreds of thousands of times and it ain’t true.

        Colleges openly discriminate against some views while supporting others. The continue to be non-profits. They continue to enjoy their tax status. And they continue to pull in research money.

        A complete failure to admit based on sex is not the same as a single student group being disciplined for breaking campus rules and breaking the law. It ain’t even in the same ballpark. The analogy is a frat that gets banned over too much date rape.

      • Ellen
        Ellen
        March 15, 2014, 2:02 pm

        Jeff, what law was broken?

        Looks like more like these students can demonstrate a pattern of discrimination and harassment to suppress expression and to intimidate. There are (still) laws to protect free speech even if you or I do not like what is being said, or even if it is ignorant.

        There are laws against intimidation, defamation of individuals, harassment. Northeastern U is walking on thin and melting ice.

      • Woody Tanaka
        Woody Tanaka
        March 15, 2014, 10:56 am

        JeffB if you really believe that this is the law that applies, you are either mind numbingly ignorant or an utter dope.

  9. Betsy
    Betsy
    March 15, 2014, 9:50 am

    @JeffB — universities are inherently public entities, in that they are stewards of knowledge, committed to serve the public interest and to intergenerational responsibility. If universities were to start to base their values in mere ideas of private property — they are no longer universities. That would be suicidal for universities to go down this path — they would lose every vestige of moral, intellectual, and civic stature within our commonwealth. Plus, there are standards of responsibility which are hard-baked into the culture and protocols of professionalism and the educational mission — that would be deeply unsettled were a university just to operate like the mere title holder to a piece of property.

    Is this an example of the kind of mean-spirited turn away from universal & humanitarian values of public life, that seems to increasingly characterize a very defensive attack on what used to be taken-for-granted principles of free speech and civic deliberation about public questions in the public interest?

    • JeffB
      JeffB
      March 15, 2014, 11:31 am

      @Betsy —

      Couldn’t agree with you more about the public mission. The question regarding a lawsuit is not what Universities should do, but rather what they are legally entitled to do. And legally this is crystal clear. If we want to talk about lawsuits then they university is just a property holder. Where it gets more complex is on the moral charges regarding the public mission of Universities to facilitate free debate. There SJP has a case because things like “fairness” do matter. But it is really important not to conflate the moral with the legal. And to certain extent Universities because they aren’t for profit can be held to very low standards of meeting public interests that regardless of what NU did in this case, they would easily meet.

      I also agree with you on the mean spirited turn away from universal and civic virtues. I vote Dem because I want to see more civic virtue and less privatization. But let’s keep what’s moral from what’s legal. Legally it is the board’s land, and the rules are mostly whatever the board wants them to be with a few broad restrictions.

  10. Betsy
    Betsy
    March 15, 2014, 2:11 pm

    @JeffB — here’s the stated mission under the webpage of the “Members of the Corporation”

    Our Mission

    To educate students for a life of fulfillment and accomplishment.

    To create and translate knowledge to meet global and societal needs.

    narrow questions of law, might be decided on narrow grounds, but the whole structure of the law stands on broad societal understandings of public interest & justice. If we divorce “law” in its most legalistic sense from broader questions about our social contract, the very foundations of the law will be undermined…that’s my point.

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