Latest update: June 19th, 2013
Alex Kane, who had already written about the “hitch-free event,” began reporting that the Four caused a disturbance so great it warranted their ejection. Kane’s post-revelation report suddenly contained descriptions of students disrupting the speaker by “talking,” “passing out anti-BDS flyers,” and being so belligerent they had to be removed by security guards.
Eventually Kane wrote something of a correction – which he called “an update.” With respect to those “anti-BDS flyers” (informational sheets) that Kane quoted the SJP activists as saying the Expelled were passing out? To whom were they passing them? Why it was:”[update: amongst each other].”
Despite the dramatic difference between handing out leaflets to the audience during a speech and handing them to the people sitting next to you with whom you came, Kane doubled-down on blaming The Four. He wrote, “I have since spoken to SJP member Carlos Guzman, who told me the same story” [from his previous article]. He also wrote that “it’s not only SJP students that dispute the story from Goldberg and Ziegler.” Where else did he see blame cast on the Four? Why, “the Brooklyn College administration’s” statement. Which was made – entirely, we shall learn – in reliance on statements made by Guzman.
SJP STATEMENT BLAMED THE BEHAVIOR OF THE FOUR FOR THEIR OUSTER
The official SJP statement regarding the ouster of The Four was issued on February 14.
During Judith Butler’s speech, four students were removed from the room by security for disturbing others sitting near them. The individuals in question were speaking loudly enough to prompt people sitting around them to ask them to be quiet. They were talking, shuffling papers, and moving noisily around in their seats for several minutes, while Dr. Butler was talking, prompting complaints from other attendees sitting nearby.
Because the acoustics in the room were poor and Dr. Butler was speaking softly, their actions prevented those around them from hearing her well.
The decision to remove these individuals was made by organizers after consulting with security, after they failed to comply with requests to be quiet. Their removal was based solely on the fact that they were disturbing guests around them.
THE FACTS GARNERED BY THE INVESTIGATION
Guzman is not a Brooklyn College student. He had been a leader in the Hunter College Students for Justice in Palestine group in the fall of 2012. However, in 2013, when the planning for and the event took place, Guzman was not a student at all, anywhere, although he continued to play a leadership role in “Students” for Justice in Palestine. (R.p. 3) Guzman was present at many meetings with Brooklyn College faculty and administration in preparation for the Feb. 7 event. (R.pp. 7, 16, 21, 22).
After the Feb. 4 major planning meeting in preparation for the BDS event, Brooklyn College administrators told both Guzman and Sundus Seif, the head of BC’s SJP group, that “the forum was to be treated as a student club event, rather than a college event and that the students and the faculty marshalls would be responsible for maintaining order.” (R. p. 21). Seif acted as the master of ceremonies for the event, and Guzman essentially played the role of field marshall.
Why did BC officials turn over responsibility for maintaining order to the students? Perhaps this decision was driven by the impulse to draw a distinction between BC and what some described as a virulently anti-Israel event. It remains hard to understand, however, how that impulse was indulged by permitting an irresponsible and potentially dangerous delegation of authority.
Based upon interviews with 23 students, listening to audiotapes of the event and other material, the Investigators’ Report included the following information.
Unequivocal conclusions of the Investigators
♦ There was no justification for the removal of the Four. (R.p. 32)
♦ The Four did not create a “disturbance.” (R.p. 32)
♦ The speaker – despite being soft-spoken and the communications system not working perfectly – could be heard with perfect clarity throughout the time the Four were present. (R.p. 32)
♦ Any noise made by the Four was the result of their late entry [a result of the problems explored in issue I.] (R.p. 32)
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.
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