Dozens of students and activists protested in New York City on Monday, 23 January to defend Fordham University’s Students for Justice in Palestine, denied the right to be chartered as a student club through the intervention of Fordham Dean of Students Keith Eldredge. The SJP chapter had earlier been approved by the student government despite a lengthy period in which students were questioned about their support for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
Speakers from a number of organizations expressed their support for the students’ struggle against the ban; the Fordham students are working with Palestine Legal to counter the university administration’s discriminatory actions.
Fordham alumnus Ahmad Awad wrote in the New York Daily News about the banning of SJP, noting that “This experience has underscored how difficult it is to talk about Palestinian freedom in America without facing serious suppression. In recent years, students and faculty who choose to speak critically of Israeli policies have faced increasing pushback, a problem that has been widely documented by constitutional and civil rights attorneys. In the first half of 2016 alone, there were 171 such incidents of suppression across the country.”
John Fletcher spoke at the rally on behalf of Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network. Leading off with a chant, John expressed solidarity with the students at Fordham and made links with the past student struggles against apartheid in South Africa. He also made the point that it was even more important for students to continue this legacy of solidarity particularly with the situation in Palestine. He also mentioned that with the emergence of right-wing political power in the United States and around the world, it is more important than ever to focus of the cause of Palestinian liberation.
Fletcher later wrote about the protest in an article for Workers World.
Protesters engaged in a spontaneous march after the demonstration, heading to Columbus Circle to highlight the suppression of SJP at Fordham and express solidarity with the Palestinian people’s liberation struggle.
Joe Catron wrote about the Fordham students’ struggle for Mint Press News, noting that “Despite their lack of the resources and services afforded to recognized student organizations, SJP activists are pressing forward, holding regular meetings on campus to plan the next steps in their campaign to secure registration with the university, as well as an apology and affirmation of the school’s commitment to free speech and the equal treatment of its students.”
Take action to defend the rights of Fordham students to organize for Palestine:
- Sign the petition organized by New York City Students for Justice in Palestine
- Send a protest email with US Campaign for Palestinian Rights
- Academic protest letter: Faculty, sign on to Jewish Voice for Peace letter