Mock eviction notices were delivered to students living in New York University dorm rooms this morning. “We regret to inform you that your suite is scheduled for demolition in three days,” the notices, which were delivered by the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, read. “If you do not vacate the premises by midnight on 25 April, 2014 we reserve the right to destroy all remaining belongings.”
The New York Post and the Times of Israel report that Jewish students were targeted with the flyers, which are intended to resemble eviction notices delivered to Palestinian homes in parts of Israel. Students for Justice in Palestine denied the claim on their website, saying they distributed more than 2,000 flyers throughout two dormitories.
The eviction notices are a tactic frequently employed by the student group; its Northeastern University chapter was suspended last month for distributing similar flyers. The group was reinstated on probation earlier today.
NYU spokesman John Beckman commented on the flyers, telling the Post, “NYU encourages free speech and the free exchange of ideas, but our hope is that the discourse – including debate on controversial issues – will be conducted in a fashion that is mature and that is meant to elicit thoughtful discussion rather than simply provoke.”
That college campuses should be places dedicated to fostering and upholding constructive dialogue—even, or perhaps especially, when it comes to contentious issues—happens to be a criticism recently leveled at NYU. Responding to the university’s American Studies department sponsoring a less-than-balanced conference on Israel last month, which organizers tried to keep private and out of the press, Liel Leibovitz wrote that a university “is—or should be—open to all ideas, to myriad points of view, to discussion, to dissent.”
There will certainly be no shortage of discussion about the eviction notices across campus in the coming days. Whether that conversation rises to the level of productive discourse is, ultimately, up to the university and its students.