Awad, et al. v. Fordham University

At a Glance

Date Filed: 

April 26, 2017

Current Status 

CCR and Palestine Legal filed a motion seeking an order to show cause why a preliminary injunction should not be issued against Fordham on November 2, 2017.

Co-Counsel 

Radhika Sainath, Dima Khalidi, and Rahul Saksena of Palestine Legal
Alan Levine, Esq.

Client(s) 

Ahmad Awad
Sofia Dadap
Sapphira Lurie
Julie Norris

Case Description 

CCR and Palestine Legal are advocating on behalf of Fordham students who were denied permission to start Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the university and then disciplined for protesting the decision. On December 22, 2016, more than a year after Fordham students had applied to start an SJP club, Fordham's Dean of Students informed them that their club application was denied. The dean explained in his decision that he believed an SJP group would create "polarization" on campus and "run contrary to the mission and values" embraced at Fordham.

The case is being brought as a special proceeding under Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules. Students are seeking a judgment compelling Fordham to officially recognize SJP and provide it the same rights enjoyed by all other clubs at Fordham.

The penalization by Fordham of student activists for Palestinian rights comes in the context of coordinated nationwide attacks on student organizing. For more information about other efforts to suppress protected activities in support of Palestinian human rights, including on college campuses, see CCR and Palestine Legal’s report, The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the U.S.

Case Timeline

November 2, 2017
Students file order to show cause why preliminary injunction should not be issued and expedited discovery granted against Fordham
November 2, 2017
Students file order to show cause why preliminary injunction should not be issued and expedited discovery granted against Fordham
The students argue that without injunctive relief they will not be able to engage in Palestinian rights advocacy on campus before graduating.
July 17, 2017
Fordham files its reply
June 5, 2017
Fordham files motion to dismiss case
April 26, 2017
Fordham students file petition for judgment under Article 78, seeking an order compelling approval of club status for SJP
April 26, 2017
Fordham students file petition for judgment under Article 78, seeking an order compelling approval of club status for SJP
February 1, 2017
Fordham student is disciplined for protesting SJP denial
February 1, 2017
Fordham student is disciplined for protesting SJP denial
On March 1, 2017, CCR and Palestine Legal send a letter to Fordham's Senior Vice President asserting the student's right to an appeal. Fordham responds that day to inform CCR and Palestine Legal that no appeal is available.
January 17, 2017
CCR and Palestine Legal send letter to Fordham expressing concern over SJP denial
January 17, 2017
CCR and Palestine Legal send letter to Fordham expressing concern over SJP denial
Fordham's Senior Vice President for Student Affairs sends a response on January 20, 2017. CCR and Palestine Legal send a second letter on January 26, 2017, explaining that the decision violates free speech rights and principles of academic freedom. Fordham's Senior Vice President responds briefly that day, affirming that his decision would stand.
December 22, 2016
Dean Eldredge denies club status for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), saying that his decision is final
December 22, 2016
Dean Eldredge denies club status for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), saying that his decision is final
November 19, 2015
Fordham students submit application to form Students for Justice in Palestine club as per Fordham's rules
November 19, 2015
Fordham students submit application to form Students for Justice in Palestine club as per Fordham's rules
After meetings and delays by the university administration, the United Student Government Executive Board and Senate approves the club application on November 17, 2016.