Calling it “nothing short of a white wash,” Councilman Lew Fidler (D-Brooklyn) issued his response to the investigative report released by CUNY last Friday.
Four Jewish students were kicked out of a controversial Brooklyn College forum held on February 7 at which Omar Barghouti, founder of the anti-Israel “boycott, divestment, and sanctions” movement spoke.
“Try as they might to wash their hands of the responsibility,” Fidler stated, “Brooklyn College administrators participated in this wrongful expulsion.” The report “clearly minimizes both the galactic mismanagement of the event … and the obvious discriminatory decision to remove four students who were obviously Jewish from the event for no apparent reason.”
The investigators’ report said the students were asked to leave because a student volunteer from the pro-Palestinian group mistook papers the four were passing to each other for political flyers, which were prohibited. Poor oversight, not religious or racial discrimination, was cited as the reason for the expulsion, and the report exonerated Brooklyn College and claimed that “there is no support for an inference of discrimination based on religion,” despite the fact that the four students were recognizably Jewish.
Fidler’s statement linked the students’ eviction from the event with the lack of openness in press coverage, and further made the point that the report “fails” because it does not call for a uniform standard for the sponsorship of events by a college department, “or at least a uniform and transparent process for making such decisions.”
“Neither does the report question why the college turned over decisions about press and security to a pro-Palestinian activist who was not a CUNY student,” Fidler’s statement reads.
The CUNY report’s strongest criticism was that Brooklyn College had not set clear protocol for who had the authority to eject participants. “It was probably a mistake … to give the students primary responsibility for maintaining order,” the Brooklyn College report said.