These high-powered investigators made suggestions – tentatively offered !! to: institute clerical changes to future registration processes; encourage reasonable press access to future public events; designate a public safety officer or high ranking college administrator to determine, in the future, when and if someone needs to be removed from an event; and give public safety personnel training on how to determine if there is an immediate threat to public safety.
No suggestions were made about how or whether to discipline all the CUNY officials and employees who were on site at the Brooklyn College BDS Event. These BC/CUNY representatives stood by and said and did nothing while a biased, non CUNY-affialiated person violated the constitutional rights of four Brooklyn College students. Actually, to say they did nothing is too charitable. Several, including the Vice President for Student Affairs Milga Morales and Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Joseph Giovanelli, actively participated in the ejection of the Brooklyn College Four.
Some press reports have focused on the lack of a direct and public apology for the wrongs endured by the expelled students. “If you Google my name, it still looks like I did something wrong,” Melanie Goldberg, one of the four expelled students told a Brooklyn College newspaper reporter after the Report was released. And indeed, the need to repair the reputations of the expelled students is an obvious first step for CUNY to take.
But the school has thus fair failed to address this fundamental issue: Brooklyn College not only allowed, but participated in the violation of their students’ constitutional rights at an event at their school, and at which nearly a dozen school officials and employees were present. That is a gaping flaw in their erstwhile efforts to move past the fiasco.
Legal counsel to the expelled students who sought representation in order to safeguard their rights are Jay P. Lefkowitz and Jakob Sebrow, who are lawyers in the New York office of Kirkland & Ellis.
In a letter sent recently to Frederick P. Schaffer, CUNY’s General Counsel, a co-investigator and co-author of the BC BDS Report, the students’ lawyers make several points quite clearly:
The constitutional rights of the expelled Brooklyn College students were violated because of the acts or omissions of BC/CUNY representatives;
The reputations of the expelled Brooklyn College students were harmed because of the overt actions taken by Brooklyn College representatives;
Those responsible for the harms inflicted on the students who were expelled – both the BC/CUNY officials and employees and the Students for Justice in Palestine, and, in particular, the individual representing the SJP whom NC/CUNY officials designated as an agent of the institution, must bear responsibility for those wrongs and endure the consequences of their actions.
A clear and public apology to the wronged students is a necessary first step. Disciplinary hearings against all those who did the students a terrible disservice, and worse, must be instituted as quickly as possible. The sad truth that Brooklyn College’s president, Karen Gould, and CUNY’s Legal Counsel and Senior Vice President, Frederick Schaffer, have failed to recognize the necessity of these simple ameliorative actions even now, nearly three months after the incident occurred, is not a good sign. Let’s hope better ones are coming.
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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