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Students forced to sign "civility" statements for walk-out protest

Tori Porell
The Electronic Intifada
21 August 2013

On 7 August, students gathered at Northeastern University in Boston to demand that the administration rescind the academic probation it imposed on our campus Palestine solidarity group earlier this year.

Supported by the National Lawyers Guild, the Center for Constitutional Rights and local union and civil rights groups, the demonstrators handed out leaflets and urged the university president to “change the policy on demonstrations and remove the sanctions placed on SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine],” as reported by OpenMedia Boston.

In April, Students for Justice in Palestine at Northeastern was disciplined in an arbitrary and overtly political attempt to censor our speech based on our pro-Palestinian content. Because we protested a talk given by Israeli soldiers, the university administration has subjected our group to an opaque and exaggerated disciplinary process.

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Which makes a dispute playing out at Northeastern University especially remarkable, and significant. It began in April, when the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine staged a walkout at a presentation by Israeli soldiers. At the start of the event, 35 students stood, small signs taped to their shirts. One member called the soldiers war criminals. One or two chanted slogans. They were gone in a minute.

For this protest, SJP has been placed on probation, and will be suspended indefinitely for further transgressions. They must also create a civility statement, laying down rules for future conduct.

Northeastern says the group was sanctioned purely because it failed to get a permit for its demonstration, which the school requires at least seven days in advance. The students say the university has targeted them for their views.