GWU Joins Growing Number of Colleges Taking Action Against Students for Justice in Palestine

By Matis Glenn

(Benoît Prieur)

George Washington University suspended Tuesday its chapter of Hamas-aligned Students for Justice in Palestine, the latest in a series of universities and collegiate systems to take action against the movement.

GWU’s decision was based primarily on the unauthorized use of school property by the student group, which does not accept Israel’s right to exist and praised the horrific October 7 massacre in Israel, proclaiming on its social media page “glory to our resistance, to our martyrs,” and calling the murders a “historic win for the Palestinian resistance.”

“On Oct. 24, the student organization GW Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) projected multiple images on the Estelle and Melvin Gelman Library,” the University said in a statement to media outlets.

Those images included the genocidal call of “from the river to the sea…,” and “glory to our martyrs.”

“After an investigation, the university determined that SJP’s actions violated university policies, including the Gelman Building Use Guidelines and the university’s policy against non-compliance, as SJP initially refused to comply with university officials’ directives to end the projections,” the statement continued.

“As a result, effective immediately, the university has prohibited SJP from participating in activities on campus. SJP cannot sponsor or organize on-campus activities on university property or use university facilities … for the next 90 days…Also effective immediately, SJP is prohibited from posting communications on university property through May 20, 2024.”

Last Wednesday, Columbia University announced that it had suspended its chapter of SJP, together with the virulently anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), until the end of the fall semester, for violating the university policy regarding demonstrations on campus while ignoring repeated warnings from the college.

“This decision was made after the two groups repeatedly violated University policies related to holding campus events, culminating in an unauthorized event Thursday afternoon that proceeded despite warnings and included threatening rhetoric and intimidation,” Gerald Rosberg, Vice President of the university, said.

“During this especially charged time on our campus, we are strongly committed to giving space to student groups to participate in debate, advocacy, and protest,” Rosberg said. “This relies on community members abiding by the rules and cooperating with University administrators who have a duty to ensure the safety of everyone in our community.”

But while GWU and Columbia did not cite the ideology of the group as the reason for their suspension, Brandeis University stated that SJP was guilty of hate speech, as it has aligned itself with Hamas – and they banned the club entirely.

On November 8, the university released a statement entitled “A space for free speech, not hate speech,” wherein they wrote “Monday, the university issued a decision to no longer recognize the Brandeis chapter of the National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). This decision was made because SJP openly supports Hamas, which the United States has designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and its call for the violent elimination of Israel and the Jewish people.”

SJP had called on all of its approximately 200 chapters in the United States and Canada to organize a national “day of resistance” on October 12. The organization wrote of the terror attacks: “The resistance in Gaza launched a surprise operation against the Zionist enemy,” and “National liberation is near— glory to our resistance, to our martyrs, and to our steadfast people.” It also falsely stated that Hamas’ 200 hostages were all IDF personnel.

In Florida, SJP has been banned from all publicly funded universities under the auspices of the State University System of Florida. On October 24, Chancellor Ray Rodriguez ordered all 12 of the state’s public universities to disband school chapters of SJP, after consulting with Governor Ron DeSantis.

“Based on the National SJP’s support of terrorism, in consultation with Governor DeSantis, the student chapters must be deactivated,” Rodriguez wrote.

The ban marked the first time a state has banned SJP, which in addition to not recognizing Israel’s right to exist, does not accept the sovereignty of the United States and Canada, referring to the latter as “occupied Turtle Island,” and the “so-called United States and Canada.”

Rodriguez, who oversees the nation’s second largest public university administration in the country, explained that the national organization’s message to its followers, that “Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement,” was in violation of state law which prohibits people “to provide material support … to a designated foreign terrorist organization.”

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