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On SJP’s Freedom to Organize: An Open Letter from CUNY Faculty

[Students for Justice in Palestine logo.] [Students for Justice in Palestine logo.]

[The following letter, signed by faculty from sixteen colleges of the City University of New York (CUNY), was released on 1 September 2014. For more information, or to sign on as a CUNY faculty signatory or an affiliate supporter, click here.]

As members of the CUNY faculty, we are writing this open letter to administrators throughout the CUNY system regarding principles of freedom of speech and assembly, and how such freedoms apply to students involved in organizing with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at several of the CUNY colleges.

We have viewed with great concern instances of unequal and unfair treatment of SJP by members of the CUNY administration over the past few years. These have been well documented by legal rights groups such as the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, and Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, as well as by students involved in SJP at CUNY and their faculty advisers. These include arbitrary changes in policies regarding student groups, aimed specifically at curtailing SJP activities; the over-policing of SJP events and activities, including simple actions like handing out fliers, in a way that has caused intimidation to students; and making unfounded accusations that lead to “investigations” into widely publicized events. All of these actions have a chilling effect on free exchange and open dialogue.

We call upon members of the administration throughout the CUNY system to treat SJP as they would any other student organization, respecting their right to organize events and activities within the existing rules and practices governing such organizations and refraining from setting up unfair barriers or subjecting SJP to standards different from those applied to other student groups. These students are acting within the traditions of intellectual inquiry and public responsibility that have guided CUNY since its inception.

We realize that you will continue to come under pressure from groups and individuals, both inside and outside the university, who have an interest in preventing open and honest discussions of issues related to Israel and Palestine. We urge you to show courage in upholding the principles of freedom of speech and assembly. We realize that you may not agree with the views espoused at events and activities organized by SJP; indeed, some of us signing this letter may not agree with all of their views. But we support unconditionally their right to express these views without fear of reprisals or unfair treatment by this university. As faculty, we know that our own right to free speech is inseparable from those of our students, whatever their views. This right is only meaningful if it applies to issues that are contentious.

In the coming academic year, we will be watching closely to make sure that the CUNY administration—at the level of both campuses and the Central Office—respects the right of SJP to organize at CUNY without further administrative hindrance or harassment. The principles of equality and free speech should apply to all student groups, without discrimination.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned (signatories in process)

Ervand Abrahamian, Distinguished Professor of History, Baruch College and The Graduate Center

Tanya Agathocleous, Associate Professor of English, Hunter College

Ammiel Alcalay, Professor of Classical, Middle Eastern & Asian Languages & Cultures, Queens College, and English, The Graduate Center

Linda Martín Alcoff, Director, Women's Studies Certificate Program and Center for the Study of Women and Society, The Graduate Center

Anthony Alessandrini, Associate Professor of English, Kingsborough Community College and the Program in Middle Eastern Studies, The Graduate Center

Meena Alexander, Distinguished Professor of English and Women’s Studies, Hunter College and the Graduate Center

Bonnie S. Anderson, Professor Emerita of History, Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center

Tom Angotti, Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning, Hunter College and The Graduate Center

John Arena, Assistant Professor of Sociology, College of Staten Island

Stanley Aronowitz, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, The Graduate Center

Arto Artinian, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Borough of Manhattan Community College

Talal Asad, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, The Graduate Center

Eleanor J. Bader, Kingsborough Community College

Austin Bailey, Department of English, Hunter College

Anny Bakalian, Associate Director, Middle East and Middle Eastern American Center, MA Program in Middle East Studies, The Graduate Center

Beth Baron, Professor of History, City College and The Graduate Center

Jennifer Baumgartner, Adjunct Lecturer, Department of English, LaGuardia Community College     

Moustafa Bayoumi, Professor of English, Brooklyn College

Lenore Beaky, Professor Emerita of English, LaGuardia Community College             

Lara Beaty, Associate Professor of Psychology, LaGuardia Community College

Sarah Benesch, Professor of English, College of Staten Island

Marimer Berberena, Adjunct Lecturer, Hostos Community College

Nancy Berke, Associate Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College

Arthur L. Binford, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, College of Staten Island        

Stephen Blum, Professor of Music, The Graduate Center

Natascia Boeri, Department of Sociology, York College

Cathy R. Borck, Department of Sociology, Borough of Manhattan Community College

Avram S. Bornstein, Associate Professor of Anthropology, John Jay College

Jacqueline Brady, Associate Professor of English, Kingsborough Community College                    

Naomi Braine, Associate Professor of Sociology, Brooklyn College

Celia Braxton, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Speech Communications & Theatre, Queensborough Community College, and Theatre Program, LaGuardia Community College

Renate Bridenthal, Professor of History (retired), Brooklyn College

Matt Brim, Assistant Professor of English, College of Staten Island

Jacqueline Brown, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Hunter College and The Graduate Center

Jonathan Buchsbaum, Professor of Media Studies, Queens College and The Graduate Center

Susan Buck-Morss, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, The Graduate Center

Lale Can, Assistant Professor of History, City College

Jennifer Caroccio, Adjunct Lecturer, English Department, Brooklyn College          

Claire Carroll, Professor of Comparative Literature, Queens College

Noel Carroll, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, The Graduate Center

Yatsen Chan, Education and Language Acquisition Department, LaGuardia Community College

Amy Chazkel, Associate Professor of History, Queens College and The Graduate Center

Sarah E. Chinn, Associate Professor of English, Hunter College, and Program in Liberal Studies, The Graduate Center

Cynthia Chris, Associate Professor of Media Culture, College of Staten Island

Matthew Chrisler, Department of Anthropology, Queens College

Mark Christian, Professor and Chair, Department of African and African American Studies, Lehman College

Kandice Chuh, Professor of English, The Graduate Center

Patricia Ticineto Clough, Professor of Sociology, Queens College and the Graduate Center

Martin Cobian, Department of Anthropology, City College

Shuki Cohen, Assistant Professor of Psychology, John Jay College

Alyson Cole, Associate Professor of Political Science, Queens College and The Graduate Center

Blanche Wiesen Cook, Distinguished Professor of History, John Jay College and The Graduate Center

Sandi E. Cooper, Professor of History, College of Staten Island and The Graduate Center

Kate Crehan, Professor of Anthropology, College of Staten Island and The Graduate Center

Paisley Currah, Professor of Political Science, Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center

James Davis, Associate Professor of English, Brooklyn College

Ashley Dawson, Professor of English, College of Staten Island and The Graduate Center

Aparajita De, Assistant Professor of English, Kingsborough Community College

Mercedes del Rosario, ePortfolio Project Director, Center for Teaching and Learning, Assistant Professor (Adjunct) Education and Language Acquisition, LaGuardia Community College

Jackie DiSalvo, Associate Professor of English (retired), Baruch College and The Graduate Center

Sarah E. Durand, Associate Professor of Biology, LaGuardia Community College

Hester Eisenstein, Professor of Sociology, Queens College and The Graduate Center

Alexander Elinson, Associate Professor of Arabic, Hunter College and The Graduate Center

Dahlia Elsayed, Assistant Professor of Art, LaGuardia Community College

Joseph Entin, Associate Professor of English and American Studies, Brooklyn College

Colleen Eren, Assistant Professor of Sociology, LaGuardia Community College

Mohammed Ezzeldin, Department of History, City College

Liza Featherstone, Belle Zeller Visiting Professor in Public Policy, Department of Political Science, Brooklyn College

Sujatha Ferdandes, Associate Professor of Sociology, Queens College and The Graduate Center

Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Social Psychology, Women’s Studies, and Urban Education, The Graduate Center

Louis Fishman, Assistant Professor of History, Brooklyn College

David Forbes, Associate Professor of Education, Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center

George Fragopoulos, Assistant Professor of English, Queensborough Community College

Erik Freas, Assistant Professor, Borough of Manhattan Community College

Lisa Freedman, Writing Instructor, Kingsborough Community College

Kristen Gallagher, Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College

David Gerstner, Professor of Cinema Studies, College of Staten Island and The Graduate Center

Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Professor of Earth & Environmental Sciences and American Studies, The Graduate Center

Jeremy Glick, Assistant Professor of English, Hunter College

Zoltan Gluck, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Baruch College

Elizabeth Goetz, Department of English, Hunter College             

Tami Gold, Professor of Integrated Media Arts, Hunter College

David Greetham, Distinguished Professor of English (retired), The Graduate Center

Stafford Gregoire, Assistant Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College

Kate Griffiths-Dingani, Department of Anthropology, Hunter College

Samira Haj, Professor of History, College of Staten Island and The Graduate Center

Jean Halley, Associate Professor of Sociology, College of Staten Island

Karen Allison Hammer, Department of English, Baruch College                

John L. Hammond, Professor of Sociology, Hunter College and The Graduate Center

David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and History, The Graduate Center

Ron Hayduk, Professor of Political Science, Queens College

Omar Ait Hellal, Associate Professor of Computer Science, LaGuardia Community College

Nancy Hoch, Associate Professor of English, School of Professional Studies

Reem Jaafar, Associate Professor, LaGuardia Community College              

Gaurav Jashnani, Department of Psychology, City College

David Joselit, Distinguished Professor of Art History, The Graduate Center

Cindi Katz, Professor of Geography in Environmental Psychology and Women’s Studies, The Graduate Center

Ramzi Kassem, Associate Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law

Sean M. Kennedy, Department of English, Medgar Evers College

Chris Knight, Department of English, City College

Simone Kolysh, Department of Sociology, Brooklyn College

John Krinsky, Associate Professor and Chair of Political Science, City College

Peter Kwong, Distinguished Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning, Hunter College, and Sociology, The Graduate Center

John Lawrence, Professor of Psychology, College of Staten Island               

Shirley Lindenbaum, Professor Emerita of Anthropology, The Graduate Center

Antonio Lorenzoni, Adjunct Lecturer, Borough of Manhattan Community College

Eric Lott, Professor of English, The Graduate Center          

Jane Marcus, Distinguished Professor of English, City College and The Graduate Center

Michael Marcus, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, City College

Gerald Markowitz, Distinguished Professor of History, John Jay College and The Graduate Center

Christine Marks, Assistant Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College

Arianna Martinez, Assistant Professor of Urban Studies, LaGuardia Community College

J. W. Mason, Assistant Professor of Economics, John Jay College

Steve McFarland, Assistant Professor of Urban Studies, Queens College

Neil Meyer, Assistant Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College

Karen Miller, Associate Professor of Urban Studies and History, LaGuardia Community College

Donald Monaco, Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Sociology, LaGuardia Community College

Pablo Moraga, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Spanish, Queens College        

Eileen Moran, Research Associate (retired), Michael Harrington Center and Department of Sociology, Queens College

Eman Mosharafa, Professor of Communication, LaGuardia Community College

Ananya Mukherjea, Associate Professor of Sociology, College of Staten Island

Roopali Mukherjee, Associate Professor of Media Studies, Queens College

Leith Mullings, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, The Graduate Center         

Carolina Bank Muñoz, Associate Professor of Sociology, Brooklyn College

Mojúbàolú Olufunke Okome, Professor of Political Science, Brooklyn College

David O’Brien, Professor of Psychology, Baruch College and The Graduate Center

Susan O’Malley, Professor of English (retired), Kingsborough Community College

Roslyn Orgel, Center for Teaching and Learning, LaGuardia Community College           

Rupal Oza, Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies, Hunter College and The Graduate Center

Helen Panagiotopoulos, Department of Anthropology, Hunter College             

Lindsay Parme, Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, City College

Sonali Perera, Associate Professor of English, Hunter College

Sreca Perunovic, Associate Professor of Sociology, LaGuardia Community College

Rosalind Petchesky, Distinguished Professor Emerita, Hunter College and the Graduate Center

Kristofer Petersen-Overton, Department of Political Science, Lehman College

John Pittman, Associate Professor of Philosophy, John Jay College

Charles Post, Professor of Sociology, Borough of Manhattan Community College and the Graduate Center

Shirley Rausher, Department of English, Borough of Manhattan Community College

Catherine Raissiguier, Professor of Women and Gender Studies, Hunter College

Conor Tomás Reed, Department of English, Medgar Evers College

Kristina Richardson, Assistant Professor of History, Queens College

Justin Rogers-Cooper, Assistant Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College

Corey Robin, Professor of Political Science, Brooklyn College and The Graduate Center

Randy Saad, Science Department, LaGuardia Community College

Christa Salamandra, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Lehman College and The Graduate Canter

Alexandra Schindler, Anthropology Department, Hunter College

Jane Schneider, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, The Graduate Center        

Sarah Schulman, Distinguished Professor of the Humanities, College of Staten Island

Jesse Schwartz, Assistant Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College

Jillian Schwedler, Professor of Political Science, Hunter College and The Graduate Center

Charity Scribner, Associate Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College, and Comparative Literature, The Graduate Center

Jacob Segal, Associate Professor of Political Science, Kingsborough Community College

Don Selby, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, College of Staten Island              

Jonathan Shannon, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Hunter College and The Graduate Center

Douaa Sheet, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Baruch College

Sigmund Shen, Associate Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College

Nichole Shippen, Assistant Professor of Political Science, LaGuardia Community College

Carol Smith, Associate Professor of Counseling (retired), SEEK Program, City College

Julia Sneeringer, Associate Professor of History, Queens College and The Graduate Center

Robyn Spencer, Assistant Professor of History, Lehman College

Christopher Stone, Associate Professor of Arabic, Hunter College and The Graduate Center

Aoibheann Sweeney, Executive Director, Center for the Humanities, The Graduate Center

Shareah Taleghani, Assistant Professor, Classical, Middle Eastern, and Asian Languages and Cultures, Queens College

Laura Tanenbaum, Associate Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College

Peter M. Taubman, Professor of Secondary Education, Brooklyn College

Lynne Teplin, Counseling Department, LaGuardia Community College

Jeanne Theoharis, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Brooklyn College

Saadia Toor, Associate Professor of Sociology, College of Staten Island

Ellen Tremper, Professor of English, Brooklyn College             

Mark Turner, Director of the Artino Laboratory for Computational Mathematics, City College

Blanca Vázquez, Department of Film and Media Studies, Hunter College

Leonard Vogt, Professor Emeritus of English, LaGuardia Community College          

H. Alexander Welcome, Assistant Professor of Sociology, LaGuardia Community College

John Whitlow, Clinical Professor of Law, CUNY School of Law

Gary Wilder, Associate Professor of Anthropology, The Graduate Center

Joshua Wilner, Professor of English, City College and The Graduate Center

Barbara Winslow, Professor of Secondary Education and Women's and Gender Studies; Director, Shirley Chisholm Project of Brooklyn Women's Activism, Brooklyn College

Eben Wood, Associate Professor of English, Kingsborough Community College

Susan L. Woodward, Professor of Political Science, The Graduate Center

Sameera Younus-Khan, Center for Contract Training, LaGuardia Community College                     

ADDITIONAL SUPPORTERS

Rabab Abdulhadi, Associate Professor of Race & Resistance Studies, San Francisco State University

Asad Abukhalil, Professor of Political Science, California State University, Stanislaus

Danya Al-Saleh, PhD Candidate, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Elizabeth Arestyl, Library, LaGuardia Community College

Paola Bacchetta, Associate Professor of Gender & Women's Studies, University of California, Berkeley

Rosalyn Baxandall, Distinguished Teaching Professor (retired), SUNY Old Westbury

Jess Bier, Postdoctoral Fellow, Sociology, Erasmus University, Roterdam

Cynthia Grant Bowman, Dorothea S. Clarke Professor of Law, Cornell University Law School

Charles E. Butterworth, Emeritus Professor, Department of Government & Politics, University of Maryland

Shefali Chandra, Associate Professor of History, International and Area Studies, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Washington University in St. Louis

Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor & Professor of Linguistics (Emeritus), Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Annam Choudhry, MA Student in International Relations, City College (Brooklyn College alumnus)

Arif Dirlik, Independent scholar, Eugene, OR

Omnia El Shakry, Associate Professor of History, University of California, Davis

Mohamed Elgohari, New York University

Mohammad Fadel, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto

Alexa Firat, Assistant Professor of Arabic, Temple University                 

Christopher Ian Foster, Dissertation Fellow, Department of English, CUNY Graduate Center

Linda Gordon, Florence Kelley Professor of History, New York University

Jean Jackson, Professor of Anthropology Emerita, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Hazem Jamjoum, PhD Candidate, Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, New York University

Marwa Janini, Graduate Student, Middle East Studies, CUNY Graduate Center

Carole Joffe, Professor Emerita of Sociology, University of California at Davis

Louis Kampf, Professor Emeritus of Literature, MIT

Malav Kanuga, PhD Candidate, Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center

Temma Kaplan, Professor of History, Rutgers University

Arang Keshavarzian, Associate Professor, Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, New York University

Satish Kolluri, Associate Professor of Communication, Pace University

Mark LeVine, Professor of History, University of California-Irvine, Hunter College Religion Program Alumnus/Lecturer

Silvia Lu, Library, LaGuardia Community College

Yates Mckee, PhD Candidate, Art History, CUNY Graduate Center

Suneela Mubayi, PhD Candidate, Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, New York University

Bill V. Mullen, Professor of English and American Studies, Purdue University (CUNY alumnus)

Carol Murry, Retired, University of Hawai'i

Jack Norton, PhD Candidate, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, CUNY Graduate Center

Amira Pierce, Language Lecturer, Expository Writing Program, New York University          

The Postcolonial Studies Group, CUNY Graduate Center

Jean Quataert, Professor of History, Binghmamton University

Dina A. Ramadan, Assistant Professor of Arabic, Bard College

Yasmine Ramadan, Assistant Professor of Arabic, The University of Iowa

Ellen Ross, Professor of History and Women’s Studies (retired), Ramapo College

Jeff Sacks, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, University of California, Riverside

Svati P. Shah, Assistant Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Elizabeth A. Sibilia, PhD Candidate, Geography, The Graduate Center

Daniel Skinner, Assistant Professor of Health Policy, Ohio University

James Smethurst, Professor of Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst (City College alumnus)

Jonathan Soffer, Professor of History, New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering

Helga Tawil-Souri, Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University

Cihan Tekay, PhD Candidate, Anthropology, CUNY Graduate Center

Ulku Tekten, PhD Student, English, CUNY Graduate Center

Leigh Ann Wheeler, Professor of History, Binghmamton University          

** Affiliations are for identification purposes only.

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