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Fordham retaliates against student for protesting SJP ban

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Fordham University has issued a disciplinary charge against a student trying to start a Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group on campus, demanding a closed-door hearing with the dean who denied the group club status. The student, senior Sapphira Lurie, was charged with violating the school’s “Demonstration Policy” for organizing a January 23rd rally protesting Fordham’s decision to ban SJP from the school. Her hearing is scheduled for February 22nd.

Dean Keith Eldredge, who denied the SJP club status in December, filed the complaint, noticed the complaint, will alone conduct the hearing, and determine Sapphira’s guilt and punishment.

“I feel like I’m being retaliated against because I challenged his decision and protested it in a public way,” said Lurie, a literature major.

Dean Eldredge has denied Lurie’s request to bring counsel, a faculty advisor, or any other person into the hearing. Requests for a neutral decisionmaker were also denied.

“This entire disciplinary process is utterly lacking in due process protections,” said Palestine Legal attorney Radhika Sainath, who represents Lurie. “How can anyone get a fair hearing when the same aggrieved administrator is the complainant, prosecutor, judge, jury and sentencer — and insists that a student meet alone with him behind closed doors?”

Students are calling on Fordham to drop the charge, and to instate SJP as a student club.

The charges come after numerous other groups, including Jewish Voice for Peace, Friends of Sabeel North America, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), and the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) called on Fordham, and Dean Eldredge, to recognize SJP. In January, Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights notified Fordham that its censorship of SJP violated free speech and academic freedom guarantees.

Fordham’s contempt for the speech and associational rights of its students reinforces the dangerous anti-Muslim, anti-Palestinian and anti-speech rhetoric that the Trump administration is engaging in, and undermines the rights and safety of all students when strong safeguards are most needed.

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14 Responses

  1. Citizen on February 17, 2017, 9:04 pm

    What happened to the ivory tower’s 1960s worship of “the free play of ideas”?

  2. JustJessetr on February 17, 2017, 10:01 pm

    Fordham tossed out the SJP because:

    “Fordham has no registered student clubs the sole focus of which is the political agenda of one nation, against another nation,” the statement read. “The narrowness of Students for Justice in Palestine’s political focus makes it more akin to a lobbying group than a student club. Regardless of the club’s status, students, faculty, and staff are of course free to voice their opinions on Palestine, or any other issue. There is also no pro-Israel student group at Fordham. There is a Jewish students’ club, but its description does not mention Israel.”

    Thank you, Fordham! I hope other universities take note and follow your lead.

    • talknic on February 18, 2017, 1:12 am

      Yes. Thank you Fordham. Palestine is a nation.

      Glad we got that sorted.

      In fact under the 1922 LoN Mandate for Palestine Article 7 and the 1925 adoption of Palestinian Nationality Law per Article 7 of the mandate, it was a Nation State long before Israel proclaimed statehood.

      • Misterioso on February 18, 2017, 3:51 pm


        Also, for the record:

        The 1922 League of Nations British Mandate for Palestine was a Class A Mandate, i. e, Palestine was to be administered by Britain AS A WHOLE until its citizens were able to assume democratic self-rule.

        By incorporating the Balfour Declaration the mandate did facilitate Jewish immigration to “secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home,” but it did not call for the creation of a sovereign Jewish state or homeland in Palestine or any form of partition. This was made very clear in the Churchill Memorandum (1 July 1922) regarding the British Mandate: “[T]he status of all citizens of Palestine in the eyes of the law shall be Palestinian, and it has never been intended that they, or any section of them, should possess any other juridical status.”

        Furthermore, regarding the British Mandate, as approved by the Council of the League of Nations, the British government declared: “His Majesty’s Government therefore now declare unequivocally that it is not part of their policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State.” (Command Paper, 1922)

        To make it absolutely clear, in May 1939, the British government issued the MacDonald White Paper, which in accordance with the Mandate, ruled out any possibility of a Jewish state, and declared Great Britain “could not have intended Palestine should be converted into a Jewish state against the will of the Arab population of the country.” It called for a Palestinian state in which Jews and Arabs would govern jointly based on a constitution to be drafted by their representatives and those of Britain. The constitution would safeguard the “Jewish National Home” in Palestine and if good relations developed between Jews and Arabs, the country would be granted independence in ten years. Land sales to Jews were to be restricted and the annual level of Jewish immigration was to be limited to 15,000 for five years, following which, Palestinian Arab acquiescence would be required.

        Hence, consistent with the terms of its Class A Mandate and the MacDonald White Paper, Britain abstained on the UNGA vote regarding the recommendatory only Nov. 29/47 Partition Plan (UNGA Res. 181)

    • talknic on February 18, 2017, 3:35 am

      BTW they’re delusional if they think there’s no group of pro-Israeli students despite there not being an official pro-Israeli ‘club’—blog/news-and-views/2002/07/22/solidarity-rally-unites-students-in-new-york

    • Maghlawatan on February 18, 2017, 5:04 am

      Did Hitler ever imagine Judaism surviving the war but turning its back on morality?

      Slow suicide.

    • MHughes976 on February 18, 2017, 8:51 am

      Yet national disputes can be of great importance and can raise important questions. I wouldn’t want a group seeking to advocate Ukrainian complaints against Russia or the other way round banned. The issues may be as important and as urgent and as much in need of discussion without censorship as those raised at any moment between, say, mainstream political parties. So why make that difference? If one is free to advocate opinion A and organise meetings, invite speakers etc. to spread A-ism but free to advocate opinion B only personally, without the option of spreading B-ism through the same means then B is subject to some degree of censorship, meaning that speech about B is not entirely free. That would still be true if both sides of the B debate were subject to these severe restrictions.

      • JustJessetr on February 18, 2017, 12:00 pm

        Then pro-Israel groups (if they existed) should also be fully supported by the Fordham administration as any SJP group, and be as unfettered to speak their mind as the SJP, and free to receive unlimited financial backing from outside sources just like the SJP.

        Personally, I think Fordham has found a terrific moral and legal angle from which to view anti free-speech, [..] like the SJP.

      • Mooser on February 18, 2017, 1:20 pm


        +1 !

      • MHughes976 on February 18, 2017, 4:59 pm

        You’re quite right, JJ. Pro-Israel groups at Western universities should not be censored or impeded in making their case.

      • Mooser on February 18, 2017, 7:08 pm

        “Pro-Israel groups at Western universities should not be censored or impeded in making their case.”

        So Israel-backed groups can pour hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of dollars into “Pro-Israel groups at Western universities? Maybe have the IDF recruiting on campus? Pay emoluments to Profs. for pro-Israel content?
        Don’t want to “impede” them in “making their case” that Israel should be above the law and above morality, do we?

      • MHughes976 on February 19, 2017, 10:00 am

        Well, Moser, I was talking about normal student society activities – hiring venues, importing speakers, distributing leaflets. I wouldn’t want to impose spending limits on these and would have some confidence that the better argument would prevail over the worse in conditions of free speech. I think this is actually happening in the slightly closed world of academia as it not happening in the world of politics and power. I don’t think that Firdham’s exception regarding national disputes holds water – I doubt if even they think it does. I do think that there might well be restrictions on having academic staff subsidised by vested interests, national or other. An eye should be kept on jaunts, junkets and freebies in every walk of life.

  3. oldgeezer on February 18, 2017, 8:27 am

    Time to demand the removal of the dean. Even if you support the banning of SJP the fact that he “filed the complaint, noticed the complaint, will alone conduct the hearing, and determine Sapphira’s guilt and punishment. – See more at:” is a complete abuse of power, position and process.

    Sue his nasty little ass into the ground and if Fordham backs him then do the same to it.

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