A group of 45 Jewish, Christian, education and civil rights organizations has sent Tufts University President Anthony Monaco a letter expressing grave concern over the student government’s planned exclusion of Jewish students from an anti-Israel decision.
On the eve of Passover, the Tufts University Student Senate pushed through an anti-Israel divestment resolution brought forth by Students for Justice in Palestine. The resolution, which passed by 17 to 6 with 8 abstained, falsely accused Israel of being “an apartheid regime,” endorsed the full BDS movement call including the right of return which would effectively eliminate Israel as a Jewish state, and cited for divestment four specific corporations that do business with Israel—Elbit Systems, G4S, Northrop Grumman and Hewlett Packard Enterprises.
Before the vote, dozens of students asked their representatives to postpone the vote, pleading that “they want the opportunity to have a voice on this issue.”
The letter stated as follows (we are grateful to Nicole Rosen who made the letter available to us and to Tammi Rossman-Benjamin of AMCHA who drafted and coordinated the letter):
- Direct the TCU Senate to nullify the divestment resolution vote and schedule a re-vote for a time when the resolution can be fairly discussed and debated, and when all students – but especially those who are personally affected by the resolution — have an opportunity to express their opinions and equitably participate in the student government process;
- Review, update and diligently enforce campus policies and procedures to guarantee that all members of the campus community, irrespective of their opinions, beliefs or identity, are equitably and adequately protected from intolerant behavior that infringes on their freedom of expression and denies them equal rights.
- Ensure that prompt and appropriate disciplinary measures are taken when any individual or group engages in behavior that suppresses the freedom of expression or civil rights of others. To be a credible deterrent against campus abuses, “appropriate disciplinary measures” must include rigorous penalties such as suspension and expulsion.
- Develop protocols for vetting the establishment and yearly renewal of university-approved student groups, to determine whether a group is likely to, or has already engaged in the suppression of others’ freedom of speech or civil rights. Any group whose stated mission is to engage in such intolerant behavior, or whose members have repeatedly engaged in such behavior, should not be given university approval.
- Develop educational and training programs that can:
- Help members of the campus community to recognize and avoid intolerant behavior that suppresses others’ freedom of expression or denies them equal rights, and to be aware of all campus policies and procedures regarding such behavior;
- Teach and encourage the expression of a wide range of views in a productive and respectful manner;
- Inculcate an understanding of and appreciation for the First Amendment and Tufts’ own “Declaration on Freedom of Expression” and their critical role in supporting the academic mission of the university.