Private University Bans Pro-Palestinian Student Group Over Support For Hamas

"Such expression is not protected by Brandeis' principles of free speech."
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2023/10/12: Students from Brooklyn College and supporters hold signs during a pro-Palestinian demonstration at the entrance of the campus. The pro-Palestinian student organization Students for Justice In Palestine (SJP) held protests in colleges across the nation to show solidarity with Palestine. On October 7 the Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a large-scale surprise attack from Gaza, launching thousands of missiles and sending at least 1,500 fighters by land, sea and air into Israel. At least 1,300 Israelis have been confirmed killed and 150 kidnapped. 1,203 Palestinians in Gaza are also confirmed killed. The attack is prompting retaliatory strikes by Israel on Gaza and a declaration of war by the Israeli prime minister. (Photo by Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Michael Nigro/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

A private Massachusetts university has decided to ban its chapter of the National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) from campus, becoming the first private university to do so amid the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Brandeis University cited the group’s support for the Palestinian terror group Hamas as the main factor in the school’s decision to ban the student group.

“SJP has called on its chapters to engage in conduct that supports Hamas in its call for the elimination of the only Jewish state in the world and its people,” a Brandeis University spokesperson told The Hill.

“Such expression is not protected by Brandeis’ principles of free speech,” the spokesperson said. “Students are welcome to express their support for Palestinians in a manner that complies with our rights and responsibilities.”

The university’s decision comes a month after Hamas launched deadly terrorist attacks on Israel that killed more than 1,400 people, including women and children. Israel has responded with airstrikes and a ground offensive.

Brandeis, which is located just west of Boston, was founded in 1948 by the American Jewish community “at a time when Jews and other ethnic and racial minorities, and women, faced discrimination in higher education,” the university states on its website.

Brandeis also sent the SJP chapter a letter explaining its decision to boot them from campus.

“This decision was not made lightly, as Brandeis is dedicated to upholding free speech principles, which have been codified in Brandeis’ Principles of Free Speech and Free Expression,” reads the school’s letter, which was published by Jewish Insider.

The school’s free speech principles do not allow individuals to say “whatever they wish, wherever they wish, or however they wish,” Brandeis said, adding that the principles also permit the university to restrict expression that constitutes a “genuine threat or harassment” or that is otherwise “directly incompatible with the functioning of the university.”

Students who participate in conduct expressing support for Hamas “will be considered to be in violation of the University’s student code of conduct,” the school said in its letter.

However, students who want to express their support for Palestinian civilians will be allowed to form a different student group, the university said.

The decision was criticized by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, which argued that Brandeis is “punishing its students for nothing more than protected political advocacy.”

State colleges in Florida have already banned SJP student organizations on campus. Late last month, Florida officials ordered state universities and colleges to disband any SJP groups.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Private University Bans Pro-Palestinian Student Group Over Support For Hamas