colleges

Fordham U. Bans Pro-Palestinian Student Group Because of Its 'Political Goals'

Provocative political activism of the left-wing variety faces a free speech challenge.

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Too hot for Fordham
Flickr/Ariel Hayat

Fordham University—a private Jesuit institution in New York City—has denied Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) the ability to form a chapter on the school's campus, citing the group's politics as the primary reason for the refusal.

In a letter to the group's applicants, the dean of students of the school's Manhattan campus Keith Eldredge wrote, "I cannot support an organization whose sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group, and against a specific country." Eldredge is referring to SJP's support of the Boycott Divest Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel, which Eldredge wrote is "barrier to open dialogue and mutual learning and understanding."

The Center for Constitutional Rights and the legal advocacy group Palestine Legal responded with a letter of their own, where they argued "The denial violates free speech and association principles, the University's commitment to protect free inquiry, and could give rise to a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act."

Like many political student groups SJP engages in deliberately provocative speech, such as setting up "Apartheid walks" and mock Israeli checkpoints on campus. But the singling out of pro-Palestinian/anti-Israeli viewpoints as beyond the pale of acceptable speech is a growing phenomenon, with even the U.S. Senate passing the "Anti-Semitism Awareness Act" that essentially criminalizes harsh criticism of Israel on college campuses.

While Fordham is a private school and thus not required to abide by the First Amendment, Ari Cohn of The Foundation for Individual Rights (FIRE) tells Inside Higher Ed, "the justification for denying SJP recognition is completely without merit and cannot stand at any university that proclaims that it values freedom of expression, which Fordham's written policies do." Also from Inside Higher Ed:

Cohn noted that Fordham has chapters of the College Democrats and College Republicans, both of which advocate for specific political goals. "The fact that the group [SJP] is oriented toward advocating a specific political viewpoint is not out of the ordinary, and student organizations at every campus across the country do just that," Cohn said. "It's a little bit baffling to see that justification used to deny a student organization recognition."

As I've noted here at Reason, it's not just the left seeking to legislate acceptable discourse on campus, and as a cause generally associated with the left, pro-Palestinian activism's increasing marginalization on campus is a healthy reminder that free speech is meant to protect unpopular viewpoints, not ones that enjoy universal acceptance.

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  1. Jesus christ, colleges! Could we please just focus on preparing the little shits for a fucking career, please?

    Besides, I hate it when my principles force me to side with people I don’t like.

    1. your last line +100000. Consistency is such a bitch sometimes.

  2. While Fordham is a private school and thus not required to abide by the First Amendment,

    I think we’re done here. Late links and useless article, are you trying to compete with Robby?

    1. If they’re required to abide by Title IX, they should be required to abide by the First Amendment (and the Second, too).

  3. While I’d probably consider these guys assholes, I can’t see the logic of Fordham’s case. The administrators are just wrong here.

  4. What is it about Israel that turns everyone into an asshole?

    1. (((I don’t know)))

    2. You know who else was sort of an asshole about Israel?

      1. Mel Gibson?

      2. Nasser?

      3. Nobel Prize Laureate, Yassir Arafat?

      4. Pontius Pilate?

      5. Charles Lindbergh?

      6. Bobby Fischer?

      7. Obama?

        OK, not really ‘sort of’, more like ‘definitely’.

      8. The correct answer is Jacob.

        Jesus, do you guys even Old Testament?

        1. Jesus is in the New Testament.

      9. The God of the Old Testament?

    3. The USS Liberty?

  5. A private, Jesuit institution should be allowed to do whatever it wants. The rest of the truncated sentence is:

    I cannot support an organization whose sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group, and against a specific country, when these goals clearly conflict with and run contrary to the mission and values of the University.

    For a taxpayer funded institution, this club would have a legit gripe. For a private institution, I don’t think so. Same goes, btw, for *most* of these cases on private campuses. Left or right.

    1. I followed the link, and by Jove- you’re right! Leaving out that crucial part completely changes the reader’s impression of the dean’s intentions. Shame on you, Fisher.

      1. It’s also misleading to put a period there instead of an ellipsis (although I realize the period was there to end the sentence). Not saying that was intentional. Just pointing it out.

        1. Very bad form. Turns it into a misquote.

    2. FFS, I expect better from Reason than cherry-picking quotes out of context. Somebody please slap this Anthony character upside the head.

  6. Pro-Palestine student groups are among the most obnoxious activists groups I’ve ever encountered. That said, Fordham is being dumb here.

    Just because they can censor certain viewpoints doesn’t mean they should. Give them their charter, a clear list of rules that apply to all groups and let them be.

    1. Exactly. They’re scum, but even scum gets to speak their mind.

    2. Seems like a sensible approach for an ‘institution of higher learning’, doesn’t it?

      As administrators, if you can’t sell and defend free speech, you deserve to fail. I’m glad FIRE is holding their feet to the – uh – fire…

    3. Just because they can censor certain viewpoints doesn’t mean they should.

      So you think there should be a law making it illegal for a PRIVATE institution to ban an official group. You make me wanna wretch.

      1. Isn’t libertarianism pretty much predicated on letting people do stuff even when they “shouldn’t”? We can still point out Fordham is being dumb, even when they act within their rights.

        It’s what we say about CNN, WaPo and friends, after all.

  7. Pro Palestinian groups tend to be a little more then antisemitic in my experience, however they are entitled to their opinions until they begin to initiate the violence they tend to verbally support.

    1. Criticizing Israel is perfectly acceptable. Actually supporting Hamas and defending the actions of Palestinians by liberals can only be rooted in pure anti-Semitism. There is no other explanation for why a liberal would support homophobia, sexism, and brutal theocratic oppression against a free democracy where women and gays can march in parades.

      1. Pyramid of Victimhood. The Jews only enjoyed a privileged spot near the top for a few years after people heard about the Holocaust and back when a surprisingly high proportion of the high ranking communists and promoters of communism were themselves Jews. Once that trend plateaued, Jews were demoted to near white people status on the pyramid.

        1. Also, Betrayal Of The Cause. They were supposed to be vanguard of anti-colonialism and socialism (USSR was the first country to recognize Israel, months and a war before US did), and instead created a democratic state with only small amounts of government influence in economy (they were run by Socialists for first 30ish years, after all). Once Syria and Egypt turned out their own weird Marxist branches and became Soviet proteges, it was all over for Israel. Allying with US post ’67 was the final nail.

          1. I thought Truman recognized Israel within a matter of hours after it was proclaimed.

            1. He did, but we weren’t allies to the extent we were later on.

            2. Crap, now I have to Hinh the thread 🙁

              From Wikipedia:

              On the declaration of independence, a Provisional government of Israel was established; and while military operations were still in progress, the Provisional government was promptly recognised by the United States as the de facto authority of Israel,[2][3] followed by Iran (which had voted against the UN partition plan), Guatemala, Iceland, Nicaragua, Romania, and Uruguay. The Soviet Union was the first country to recognise Israel de jure on 17 May 1948,[4] followed by Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Ireland, and South Africa.[citation needed] The United States extended de jure recognition after the first Israeli election,[5] on 31 January 1949.[6]

              My understanding (and I admit having no law training) is that difference between de facto and de jure is pretty large. US recognized Palestinian Authority as de facto authority in Palestine after Oslo. It hasn’t recognized Palestine as de jure country to this day, and if it does, it’ll cause a huge shift in international relations.

          2. Also, the left-wing was way more positive towards Israel when it seemed like they were the underdogs in the Middle East fight. But then they kept winning wars and flipped from the oppressed to the oppressor.

  8. You know, in my day we went to college for one reason and one reason only: to get an education and get piss drunk starting Thursdays late afternoon.

    1. get piss drunk starting Thursdays late afternoon.

      Late afternoon? Thursday?

      NERD!

  9. Can we do anti-Israel instead of pro-Palestine? Palestine isn’t even a state. Israel took the land in a defensive war, which is a completely legitimate way to end up with more land. Therefore, trying to take the land back is anti-Israel and not pro-Palestine.

    1. “Palestine” had their chance at sovereignty and they blew when at the very first opportunity when they launched a genocidal war and forfeited any right they may have had to sovereignty, as far as the prevailing theories of national sovereignty go. The Israelis voluntarily handed back vast tracks of land they’d taken from the Arab antagonists in this defensive war, which they had no real obligation to do. Now they want to describe the tiny slivers of territory that they retained as “occupied” territory. I just find it exceedingly hard to sympathize with the Palestinian leadership and even Palestinian society more generally.

      1. Look, if they get rid of the Jews Israelis, then they’ll be as peaceful and prosperous as the rest of the Middle East/North Africa. Like Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, …

        1. You often hear this argument in form of “If it weren’t for Israel fucking everything up, the Middle East would be a much more peaceful and prosperous place.” Yet from where I’m sitting, it’s not the mere existence of Israelis that fucks everything up, it’s the Islamist unwillingness to abide their existence that keeps the fires of conflict burning. And when their strategy for achieving their goals seems to center around stabbing children and setting off bombs at shopping malls, anything resembling sympathy for the Palestinian’s position goes out the window for me.

          1. Its not even the hostility of Islamists toward Israel that fucks up the ME.

            Its the Islamists, period.

            1. Its the Islamists, period.

              Well, they’re not just hostile to Israel. They’re also hostile to capitalism, liberalism, any form of democracy that doesn’t result in them controlling the political process, and, well, human nature itself. It is little surprise that violence and intimidation are their main tools.

              1. You forgot other-Muslims-with-slightly-different-beliefs in that list.

            2. It’s Islam, and Arab culture (to the extent it can even be separated from Islam at this point). E.g.: Why Arabs Hate Reading. Muslim inbreeding.

    2. Israel took the land in a defensive war, which is a completely legitimate way to end up with more land.

      It always works for me in Civilization.

      1. -30 happiness “Because we can’t make the AI good enough to actually fight a war and we have to make domination victories difficult somehow.”

        1. “We hate winning a war in swift and less costly fashion!”

    3. Is it? Doesn’t a rule like that encourage countries to stage “false flag” attacks on themselves, so that they can then conquer land in “defensive” wars? In fact, isn’t that exactly how World War II started?

  10. it’s not just the left

    The mistake you’re making here, Fisher, is assuming that the administrations which want to marginalize BDS movements are “right wing”, rather than simply Pro-Israel left wingers who use the same “speech banning” methods lefties always do.

    I’d think being a NY’r, you’d immediately recognize that its pretty @#(*()@# unlikely that the people in charge of a major education institution in New York are particularly “right wing”. Didn’t Cuomo himself propose some measures that would punish BDS’ers recently?

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo: If you boycott Israel, New York state will boycott you

    My point here is that the attempt to create some false equivalence ends up completely misunderstanding the motives of the people you’re actually covering. Yes, of course “the right does it too”. But maybe you’re trying to hard to find examples.

    1. The Federalist calls antisemitism a crime.

    2. I think Tulpa has taken trolling to a higher level, he’s writing the articles now.

    3. Good point.

  11. He says it’s a barrier to open dialogue so he needs to shut that kind of talk down.

    Ouch, my irony detector.

  12. So instead of remarking on the fact that Milo has been effectively banned from another STATE university, you guys decided to raise alarms about the banning of a group by a PRIVATE university?

    To be sure, you really really really try too hard to make it appear as if this is a bipartisan threat. When in fact, it is a very violent and very tyrannical Left that is a threat to free speech.

    If the roles were reversed, I’m certain Reason would have no qualms about complaining over every incident of Michael Moore being banned from STATE universities.

    Are the cocktail parties really that great?

    1. They prolly miscegentated, too!

      1. They ain’t even old timey!

      2. i sometimes suspect that the more hysterical objections are written by people intending to undermine my own more-reasonable objections.

        this is what i get for daring to straddle the cosmo-yokel divide

        1. Commit already, straddling is hard on the balls. Also I ain’t got no time to try to decipher complex opinions as they don’t easily fit into the stereotypical pigeonholes I like to put large groups of people in.

          1. straddling is hard on the balls

            strengthens the groin

        2. this is what i get for daring to straddle the cosmo-yokel divide

          You can’t be both a Greaser and a Soc.

          1. Stay gold, Crusty Boy

          2. Can you see the sunset real good on the West side? You can see it on the East side too.

        3. Fuckin’ cosmokel!

        4. AND WHYCOME ISAIN’T THEMS FUCKIN QUEERS READIN NO FUCKIN BOOKS NANYWAYS HUH

      3. He’s just asking the questions.

  13. a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act

    … says a group that advocates for enacting discrimination against people based on national origin. You cannot make this shit up.

    You can’t discriminate against us on the basis that we’re Palestinian but you should be discriminating against people on the basis that they’re Israeli!

  14. So wait, we’re supposed to be *against* Palestine now? Does that mean we’re pro-Israel or pro-‘pox on both their houses’? This wasn’t mentioned in the newsletter.

    1. I am pro-“sort your own shit out and stop blaming all your problems on other people”

      1. ^That’s a racist microaggression right there.

    2. Well they’re all Semites so does it matter?

  15. “free speech and association principles”

    You monster! ~ every sjw.

  16. Let’s not overlook the University’s association rights here. This was a request to form a chapter on their campus. I assume this entails some recognition by the University, and likely some benefits as well (use of University property for meetings, etc.). This sure looks like “association” to me.

    Why can’t a private organization decide who to associate with? If we want to say “Oh, they get federal money, so they are subject to BOR restrictions on what the government can do”, well, that applies to every hospital and just about every physician in the country, just for starters, so I’m not super-excited about that path.

    Now, the University should have some sort of policy or guidance on who they will associate with, and should apply it consistently, but that’s more of an operational issue on how to run a good university. And it looks like that’s pretty much what the University did here. While we can debate the merits of how they run their school, I’m not sure we should force the University to have a particular policy or apply it a certain way.

    1. While Fordham is a private school and thus not required to abide by the First Amendment, Ari Cohn of The Foundation for Individual Rights (FIRE) tells Inside Higher Ed, “the justification for denying SJP recognition is completely without merit and cannot stand at any university that proclaims that it values freedom of expression, which Fordham’s written policies do.”

      I think everyone involved (at least at Reason/FIRE) gets the distinction you mention.

  17. Let’s all be honest.

    A ‘pro-Palestinian’ group is a ‘kill the jews’ group. There is nothing else about them. There is nothing else they’re backing.
    Every meeting, every protest is aimed towards getting to kill all the jews–and everyone knows it.

    So why do we pretend otherwise? Why do we delude ourselves into thinking that they have some valid stance?

    Why does anyone think it’s right that we should let them organize jew-killing groups on our campuses?

    1. Largely true. I am amused by the left’s ability to detect microaggressions and subtle “dog-whistle” racism and so on, but not see this.

  18. I wouldn’t mind if Trump banned banning.

  19. This is an example of Good Censorship.

    Too many Catholic colleges allow extracurricular programs and outside speakers who try to teach principles contrary to what Catholic colleges are supposed to inculcate. And when they *do* practice censorship, it’s in aid of the PC mob, not Catholic teaching. Witness De Paul’s treatment of the gay Trump guy with the weird name – they didn’t care that sodomy is against Catholic teaching, they were catering to the snowflakes and Democrats.

    But finally Fordham has drawn a line.

    Singling out one country for a hate and deligimization campaign in the context of regimes seeking that country’s destruction is directly contrary to the Church’s teaching about peacemaking, and good on the administration for pointing this out.

    As to whatever internal policies Fordham may post, they are all subordinate to Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the Papal decree regarding Catholic colleges and universities, under which decree the whole educational effort of a Catholic institution of higher learning must be dedicated to promoting Catholic values.

  20. Oh, boo hoo hoo. A University is taking steps not to have its institution go down the path of Germany’s Universities during the Weimer Republic and the Third Reich. Of course, that disturbs the antisemitic/Nazi types in the Libertarian party and the misnamed “Reason” Magazine. That the most…”Libertarian” of the Founding Fathers found it necessary to build a navy to fight the Muslims doesn’t stop you antisemites from making a Muslim one of your political candidates.

    We have to fight back against the antisemites so there is not the atmosphere for boycotting Jewish businesses and having a second holocaust (which, of course, you antisemites will deny ever happening as you did in the 1970s). And before you trot out your self hating, alibijuden, please spare us self haters such as Sheldon Richman and informers for Isis (to kill Pamela Geller, no less) such as Ekaterina Jung aka Cathy Young. While self haters such as Sheldon Richman are particularly odious, informer Cathy Young is worse under Jewish law. It is because of informers such as Cathy Young that the Rabbis said, “and may the informers have no hope.” Informing calls for the most serious punishment. This is the utter evil of “Reason” and the Libertarian party’s alibijuden.

    1. Dude, pretty sure Cathy Young doesn’t write here anymore, at least not regularly.

      Also, where’s your tagline? Here I’ll write it for you:

      Have no fear, Underzog is here!

  21. Oh, boo hoo hoo. A University is taking steps not to have its institution go down the path of Germany’s Universities during the Weimer Republic and the Third Reich. Of course, that disturbs the antisemitic/Nazi types in the Libertarian party and the misnamed “Reason” Magazine. That the most…”Libertarian” of the Founding Fathers found it necessary to build a navy to fight the Muslims doesn’t stop you antisemites from making a Muslim one of your political candidates.

    We have to fight back against the antisemites so there is not the atmosphere for boycotting Jewish businesses and having a second holocaust (which, of course, you antisemites will deny ever happening as you did in the 1970s). And before you trot out your self hating, alibijuden, please spare us self haters such as Sheldon Richman and informers for Isis (to kill Pamela Geller, no less) such as Ekaterina Jung aka Cathy Young. While self haters such as Sheldon Richman are particularly odious, informer Cathy Young is worse under Jewish law. It is because of informers such as Cathy Young that the Rabbis said, “and may the informers have no hope.” Informing calls for the most serious punishment. This is the utter evil of “Reason” and the Libertarian party’s alibijuden.

  22. There is nothing wrong with advocating the destruction of Israel. It’s when you advocate the destruction of the U.S.A. that you get into trouble…..legally.

    1. I’m sure that 99% of Libertarians and all of the “Reason” magazine staff agree with you. The murder of six million more Jews — another holocaust — would be a source of much pleasure for the evil, “rhomite” Libertarians. I salute your candor in your vileness. Most antisemites lie about what they are, but you don’t.

  23. While Fordham is a private school and thus not required to abide by the First Amendment, Ari Cohn of The Foundation for Individual Rights (FIRE) tells Inside Higher Ed, “the justification for denying SJP recognition is completely without merit and cannot stand at any university that proclaims that it values freedom of expression, which Fordham’s written policies do.” Also from Inside Higher Ed:
    ?????
    ????? ???? 69
    Cohn noted that Fordham has chapters of the College Democrats and College Republicans, both of which advocate for specific political goals. “The fact that the group [SJP] is oriented toward advocating a specific political viewpoint is not out of the ordinary, and student organizations at every campus across the country do just that,” Cohn said. “It’s a little bit baffling to see that justification used to deny a student organization recognition.”

  24. Are the members of the group Legal or Illegal Citizens. If they are Legal then there is a huge problem with their agenda. If they are Illegal, why are they there.

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