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BREAKING: American University places Students for Justice in Palestine chapter on disciplinary probation

Probation follows a Feb. 8 silent walk through University buildings

American University has placed the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine on probation, following a disciplinary conference about a silent indoor walk during a Feb. 8 campus demonstration, SJP announced in an Instagram post Monday.

The University banned indoor protests when it updated speech and expression policies in a Jan. 25 email to the AU community.

“This probation is intended to silence Palestinian voices on campus, as well as appeal to Zionist donors and influence,” SJP wrote in the post.

On Feb. 8, about 30 demonstrators silently walked through the quad and two University buildings holding signs calling on the University to end support of Israel. The demonstration ended outside Mary Graydon Center, where an organizer broke the silence to call on AU to “divest from any programs or funding related to Israel.”

The terms of SJP’s disciplinary probation were not immediately clear. The Jan. 25 email noted that AU community members who violate indoor protesting policies would be “subject to disciplinary action,” though administrators did not specify what actions would be taken.

SJP did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Elizabeth Deal, the assistant vice president for community and internal communication, referred The Eagle to the Student Conduct Code, which states that student organizations on probation that are “found responsible for subsequent violations of the Code may be suspended or lose their recognition,” but she did not comment further.

SJP wrote on Instagram that the conduct violation report, which detailed the reasons for the disciplinary conference, said students did not disrupt University operations.

The group wrote that in the policies the University did not define a protest and used vague language “to police anything University administrators deem as ‘unwelcoming’ and ‘uncivil’ in an attempt to silence us.”

Jewish Insider reported on Jan. 25 that the updated policies were developed with help in part by the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group with the goal of fighting antisemitism and bias.

The ADL’s website says it “works to support a secure, Jewish and democratic State of Israel” and advocates for continuing U.S. aid to Israel.

“AU’s partnering with the ADL behind closed doors should be alarming to all,” SJP said in the post.

The group also wrote in the post that the report relied on the AU Police Department’s “extensive campus surveillance practices” and that AUPD “digitally hunted down specific individuals through racist profiling.”

SJP wrote that the disciplinary conference, “while presented as an informal conversation, was framed on our criminality and was experienced as an interrogation.”

Several other universities have suspended or derecognized their campus chapters of SJP, including Columbia University, George Washington University, Brandeis University and Rutgers University–New Brunswick. Columbia also suspended its campus chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace in November. 

On Instagram, SJP echoed its previous concerns about University efforts to limit its activities and failure to support AU students.

“We will continue to hold our administration accountable for their shameful actions, to protect all marginalized students including Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students when our own leadership won’t, and to advocate for Palestinian freedom,” SJP wrote in the post.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. 

This article was edited by Kathryn Squyres, Zoe Bell, Tyler Davis and Abigail Turner. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks, Isabelle Kravis and Sarah Clayton.

news@theeagleonline.com 


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