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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
The Eagle

Guest Column: Do not silence our students, peaceful assembly is their right

Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine: We exist and we support our students speaking out against genocide

The following piece is an opinion and does not reflect the views of The Eagle and its staff. All opinions are edited for grammar, style and argument structure and fact-checked, but the opinions are the writer’s own.

We, the members of AU Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine, stand in solidarity with American University’s Students for Justice in Palestine and the growing coalition of allied student, faculty and staff organizations. We do so at a moment when members of the AU community are increasingly being subjected to repression by our leadership for speaking out about Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza, violence in the West Bank and the ongoing military occupation of Palestine. We refuse to be silent while you, our beloved students — the most vulnerable members of our academic community — are demonstrating enormous courage and leadership in an environment of anti-Palestinian bigotry. We stand with you and against those who seek to silence your voices, impede your activism and undermine coalition-building on our campus.

We, as AUFSJP, understand that the global movement for justice in Palestine is crucial territory in the defense of freedom of expression and a political commitment to justice. As such, preserving free inquiry, engaged pedagogy, open and truthful scholarship and safeguarding the right to freedom of peaceful assembly at our academic institution remain imperative. In a setting where many fear raising the question of Palestine out of concern for retribution and where SJP and allied organizations have been deliberately targeted, your political compass remains steadfast. You continue to organize, offer teach-ins and collaborate across campus, even as anti-Palestinian or Zionist and third-party pro-Israel/Zionist organizations actively bully, surveil and record allied demonstrators across the nation with impunity. You affirm and amplify the global call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and an end to the annihilation of Palestinian life. All the while, our University leadership has shown little respect for your trauma and grief and disregard for your sense of safety and security as surveillance of your activities and doxxing of your members have increased. 

We support your calls for our University’s leadership to protect and preserve the tenets of academic freedom, live up to its promise of diversity of political thought and opinion and demonstrate its stated commitment to anti-racism and the promises made in recruiting you to this campus. In speaking out about Palestine and exercising your rights in the face of repression, you are rightly challenging the University’s disregard for the experiences and concerns of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim students and their allies. You embody the long-standing tradition of student activism against war and struggles for justice on our campus.

We are proud and humbled to share this campus with you, to learn from you and to stand in solidarity with you.

We will continue to collectively refuse the anti-intellectual attempts to silence your voices and concerns. You are not alone.

AU Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine is a group of University educators and staff who are in solidarity with the movement for a free Palestine.

This piece was edited by Alana Parker, Zoe Bell, Jelinda Montes and Abigail Turner. Copy editing done by Luna Jinks and Isabelle Kravis. 

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