Skip to main content

The recent actions taken by the administration of Northeastern University against Students for Justice in Palestine extends far beyond the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and makes one question the democratic nature, role and responsibilities of our universities. When does it become acceptable for American Universities to exact retribution on student groups that question and protest the Israeli narrative?  The most recent incident involved Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) who; in pursuit of protesting the Israeli house demolition program perpetuated upon Palestinians, served mocked "eviction notices" upon other students. I want to make it abundantly clear that the "eviction" notices in question were clearly marked in bold and provided the disclaimer, "This is not a real eviction notice #BostonMockEviction", taking care to ensure they were not perceived to be real eviction notifications.

In the long line of similar tactics utilized by other university administrations, the group was banned and its members were threatened with further disciplinary measures. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, the disproportionate response of the Northeastern administration should outrage all democratically minded individuals.

The protected right of individuals to allow them to freely express their opinion without recourse is a defining trait of a democratic state.  Difference of opinion between sane, logical individuals, especially those seeking an education, provides an arena that fosters dialogue inevitably leading to understanding, progression and real solutions.  A university is the one institution where the freedom to express differences of opinion is inherent and vital to its existence.  Subverting first amendment rights, including the guaranteed right for individuals to assemble and freely express themselves, doesn't merely place us on a slippery slope, but sets us directly in the path of a full blown avalanche.  Muzzling the rights enshrined in the constitution that protects the rights to free speech and protest in an institution of higher learning is contrary to the character of such said institution.  The responsibility of a university extends beyond the dissemination of subsistent knowledge, ultimately lying within the advancement of existent scholarship achieved through interpretation, exploration and expansion.  To deny this fundamental constitutional right not only circumvents democracy, but also negates a university’s raison d'être.  How can a society advance humankind if we purge the tool we require to evolve?

In recent history, university after university has quashed any form of protest involving Israel's endless occupation, its numerous violations of human rights and complete disregard of international law which further perpetuate the dispossession of an indigenous population in the name of land expansionism.  In previous years, University of California Irvine punished 10 students for disrupting a speech given by Israel's former US Ambassador, Michael Oren, culminating in a sentence of probation and community service.  This year Northeastern University kept company with Barnard (NYC) and Columbia College (Chicago). At Barnard University, administrators ordered the removal of a previously approved SJP Palestinian Solidarity banner.  At Columbia College the administration infringed upon instructor Iymen Chehade's academic freedom by ordering him to teach in a "more balanced" way in response to a student complaint based on the screening of Oscar nominated documentary, 5 Broken Cameras, in his class.  5 Broken Cameras is far from controversial as it merely depicts the life of Palestinians living under occupation in Bil’in, West Bank and the resultant resistance and protest to Israel's Palestinian policies.  Any rational individual’s indignation, anger and wrath should be consigned to a University administration that shamelessly pandered to a student offended by a film dispelling that dispelled his or her Israeli hasbaric fairy tale.   If we follow the logical of the administrators at Northeastern University, should they stop offering Evolutionary Biology courses when an evangelical Christian student takes umbrage with the teachings of evolution and Darwinism?  

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    david mizner, bobdevo, phillies, JesseCW, quill

    Canadian mother of four, works at Canadian University, blogs and co-host of Blog Talk Radio's "Lies My Country Told Me" with co-host and love of my life, Fred Lemon.

    by mmayer on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 03:51:00 AM PDT

  •  Its all about the donors and not hurting their (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dallasdunlap, quill

    tender fee fees. Unfortunately.

  •  universities have no sense of humor (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OHdog, FG, JesseCW, quill

    A "mock" newspaper was published during the VN era, making various absurd claims regarding the conduct of the war and drew the ire of administration though the paper was distributed on April 1 and had several disclaimers prominently displayed.

    College administrators have no sense of humor at all when it comes to anything that may cause distress to deep pocketed contributors.

  •  Putting eviction notices on other students doors (5+ / 0-)

    whether mock or not, is an invasion of other students' space and I support Northeastern's decision. It's not a "free speech" issue obviously since we're talking about a private university. It's about getting in the faces of other students. Post the eviction notices on a billboard in your bedroom and no one will have a problem. Get in the faces of other students, and you've crossed the line. People just want to go to school, not be harassed.

    •  "invasion of other student's space" (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bobdevo, absdoggy, JesseCW, scott5js, unfangus

      What a wonderfully vague term, the kind beloved by administrators, closet Stalinists and other overly pedantic types because it can be used to justify stepping on, well, just about any activity, cant it.
      If you think what they did qualifies as 'harassment', you either have a very low threshold and/or a very different definition of the term.

      •  Indeed, an evanescent "crime against the people" (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DrTerwilliker, JesseCW, corvo, unfangus

        giving administrative dickheads the power to act like dicks.  Shades of Dean Wormer and super-secret probation in your permanent file.

        Fiat justitia ruat caelum "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."

        by bobdevo on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 05:26:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Very iffy (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Remembering Jello, Victor Ward

        If I am fully awake, you just called a commenter whose opinion was contrary to yours a "closet Stalinist."  Here, have a false eviction notice.

        The diary itself is unconvincing. The SJP was banned at NU for reasons that are undescribed but for one, and few details of the postings are provided.  There' a paragraph about what universities should be and one with some similar stories about suppression of "free speech without recourse"  at other schools.

        Which particular students received cleary marked false eviction notices?

        My Governor is more corrupt than yours

        by voicemail on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 05:37:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Can't see the forest for the trees... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          corvo, unfangus

          "The SJP was banned at NU for reasons that are undescribed but for one, and few details of the postings are provided."

          " in pursuit of protesting the Israeli house demolition program perpetuated upon Palestinians, served mocked "eviction notices" upon other students."

          I believe the reason for Northeastern's banning of the SJP chapter is explained right above.

          Apparently,you can't see the forest for the trees.  The diary was not specific to Northeastern's action against SJP, it is a commentary on the increasing subversion on democratic rights which academe is founded upon.  Without challenging the traditional and popular schools of thought, universities are failing their students.  Independent thought and critical thinking skills are essential to becoming educated.  Protecting free speech and protest are a responsibility of universities and are what they are founded upon.

          Canadian mother of four, works at Canadian University, blogs and co-host of Blog Talk Radio's "Lies My Country Told Me" with co-host and love of my life, Fred Lemon.

          by mmayer on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 07:33:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  One person's forest... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slipper

            If a student KKK group put posters of eviction on the dorm doors of black students, banning that group might well be appropriate.  If the eviction notices at NU were placed on the doors of Jewish students, or if Jewish students were "served," you might be a provocateur, or you might be seeing an evergreen forest where there are only maple trees.  

            You string together a bunch of sentences in your last paragraph above, but they do not follow each other logically. You provided no evidence that the action against the SJP subverts legitimate democratic rights or that NU's action subverted independent thought or critical thinking. If you think universities are founded on the protection of protest, we aren't likely to have much of a conversation here.  

            My Governor is more corrupt than yours

            by voicemail on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 05:17:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  What you define as harrassment (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Victor Ward, FG, wader
        If you think what they did qualifies as 'harassment', you either have a very low threshold and/or a very different definition of the term.
        ...and what their legal team regards as harrassment that rises to a level where they are exposed to potential liability are almost certainly different.

        Theirs is the one that matters.

        Please don't call other posters names when you have no real point.

        Here's a hint- if your argument is to call somebody a name, you have no argument.

    •  Oh, geeze, spare me the fucking sanctimony. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JesseCW, corvo

      "Invasion of other student's space"?  Like playing music after 8:00 p.m.?

      Fiat justitia ruat caelum "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."

      by bobdevo on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 05:23:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The university's Director of Student Involvement (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, JesseCW

    and the creep who banned the group, is a smiling bow-tied fascist with the pretentious monicker of Jason Campbell-Foster,  a self-described:


    Hipsters apprentice with a penchant for bow ties, peanut butter cups, Cape Cod & sarcasm.
    If you wish to express your displeasure directly to young Master Campbell-Foster, you can reach him at:

         617/373-2642            j.campbell-foster@neu.edu

    Fiat justitia ruat caelum "Let justice be done though the heavens fall."

    by bobdevo on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 05:19:31 AM PDT

  •  I disagree with Northeastern but my kid (0+ / 0-)

    is there and going very well (knock on wood) so I will continue paying them tuition.

  •  What was the university's stated (0+ / 0-)

    reason for this response?

  •  Pathetic (0+ / 0-)

    This "university" should be shut down....

    •  Yeah, that's a reasonable response (n/t) (0+ / 0-)

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Fri Mar 21, 2014 at 09:46:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site