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Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the South Florida Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) wrote to administrators at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) to express alarm at the treatment of students advocating for Palestinian rights. Five students were charged with violating school policies when they briefly protested an Israeli soldier’s lecture at their university in April, 2013. The students eventually signed agreements accepting harsh conditions to avoid a disciplinary record and a protracted legal battle, and to be able to focus on their education and activism. The agreements place those that remain at FAU on probation, and ban two of them from holding leadership positions in official student organizations for the rest of their time at FAU. They are also required to attend “Campus of Difference” trainings developed by the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that has baselessly attacked and maligned some of the same students for their speech activities in the past, and is at the forefront of efforts to repress campus activism around Palestinian rights in general.
The letter emphasizes FAU’s responsibility to protect the First Amendment rights of its students, whose protest was in the realm of constitutionally protected speech. It also disputes FAU’s application of harsh and disproportionate conditions on the students. Finally, the letter raises concerns that the disciplinary actions against these students is part of a pattern of unequal treatment, and seems to be in response to repeated attempts by outside groups to smear students engaged in Palestine solidarity activism on campus and to intimidate FAU into acting against them. CCR will continue to monitor FAU’s treatment of these students, and will continue to support students and other activists similarly targeted for their activism for Palestinian rights through the Palestine Solidarity Legal Support initiative.
To read the full letter, click here: http://ccrjustice.org/files/NLG-CCR-ADC_LettertoFAU_8.12.13%20(1).pdf
To read a statement by the students, click here: http://upressonline.com/2013/08/letter-to-the-editor-fau-students-for-justice-in-palestine-statement/
To read the August 29, 2013 statement from CCR, the South Florida NLG, and ADC responding to FAU's recent public statement, click here: http://www.ccrjustice.org/files/Response%20to%20FAUs%20public%20statement_8%2029_FINAL.pdf