This past academic year was a turbulent one on many college campuses, keeping the Brandeis Center’s legal advocacy initiative busy from coast-to-coast protecting Jewish students from hostile environments. Which incidents do you think were the worst? Unfortunately, there have been many to choose among. Here are a few to consider:
ASA – On December 15, the American Studies Association (ASA) voted to endorse the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. By a membership vote of 2-to-1, the association supported a limited academic boycott of Israel, the first country the ASA has treated this way.
AASA – Before there was the ASA, there was the AASA. Earlier this past year, the Asian American Studies Association unanimously approved a resolution endorsing a boycott of Israeli universities.
Vassar – Vassar College’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) posted a 1944 German poster on its Tumblr page portraying a many-handed monster wearing a KKK mask, holding a little man grasping a moneybag, while stomping over a European town. The Brandeis Center urged Vassar to take swift disciplinary action against the student group.
New York University – At NYU, SJP members shoved mock eviction notices under students’ dormitories room doors and into their private rooms at two NYU dormitories. One of the dormitories is known for its high concentration of Jewish students. The Brandeis Center and The Lawfare Project have urged NYU to “firmly and forcefully” discipline the students.
San Francisco State – Mohammad Hammad, a then-San Francisco State University student, late last year posted pictures on his Tumblr account with him holding a long knife captioned, “Imagine me cutting off the heads of those in the Israeli Defense Forces with this.” More recently, the Brandeis Center has joined an AMCHA Initiative letter calling for investigation into the use of university funds to sponsor a faculty member’s trip to the Middle East to meet with groups designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S. Department of State. In the past, San Francisco State has been very strong at responding to problematic incidents, and we are hopeful that President Wong will maintain former President Corrigan’s strong legacy.
Northeastern – Northeastern University’s chapter of SJP has been charged with many offenses including sliding unauthorized documents under students’ dormitory doors, not obtaining required permits, and defacing school property. Northeastern placed the chapter on probation, later reinstating them subject to various important conditions. The Brandeis Center has established a chapter at Northeastern School of Law.
Temple – Recently, a Temple University professor questioned the deaths of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust. These comments come during unsuccessful efforts to convince MLA to adopt resolution critical of Israel. According to a spokesman from the University, Professor Alessio Lerro is “entitled to promote his controversial ideas.” The Brandeis Center has urged Temple President Theobald to respond more forcefully to these outrageous statements.
UCLA – SJP has urged candidates running for the student government to pledge saying that that they will not travel to Israel on a trip sponsored by three pro-Israel groups: ADL, AIPAC, or Hasbara. No other groups are would be subjected to this treatment. The Brandeis Center has established an active chapter at UCLA and has praised statements by university leaders rebuking SJP’s actions but urges that more must be done to address campus climate there.
So let us know what you think. More importantly, let us know how we can help. Brandeis Center lawyers remain available to consult with students who have faced anti-Semitic harassment on any American college or university campus. Some anti-Semitic incidents occur in connection with the BDS, while others do not. In addition to our legal advocacy, we also produce various resources, such as our Campus Anti-Semitism fact sheet and our Best Practices guides for university administrators. As a community-supported nonprofit organization, we would also appreciate if you can help us too.