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Northeastern Bans Pro-Palestine Student Group

Students for Justice in Palestine faces year-long campus suspension

Stephanie Butnick
March 13, 2014
Northeastern University(Wikimedia)
Northeastern University(Wikimedia)

Boston’s Northeastern University suspended its campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, JTA reports. The group, which was put on probation last spring after organizing a silent walk-out during an event attended by Israeli soldiers, now faces a one-year suspension over a controversial campus campaign.

Northeastern suspended Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP, from the campus on March 7 for at least a year and barred its current executive board from serving on any future board in the organization for its campaign distributing mock eviction notices last month to student residences at the university. The notices were designed to mimic those that appear on illegal Arab construction slated for demolition. Similar campaigns have been used on other campuses.

The student group responded with a statement saying that they were being singled out by the university, adding, “It is clear that the university’s draconian decision is part of a thinly veiled policy of silencing student speech critical of Israel.”

Students for Justice in Palestine has come under fire elsewhere this week. At Barnard college, the administration removed a banner that the group’s Columbia chapter had posted to advertise Israeli Apartheid Week, sparking a debate over free speech on college campuses. The banner depicted a green, borderless image of Israel (so ostensibly not Israel at all) and read “Stand for justice, stand for Palestine.” After students and alumni complained, the administration announced that the banner, which hung next to the Barnard emblem on a campus building—and which the organization maintained had been pre-approved by the university—was being taken down.

This latest dust-up at Northeastern will likely fuel the ongoing discussion of campus groups, free speech, and college activist culture.

Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.