Fordham University: Prospective Students for Justice in Palestine Chapter Rejected Over Political Beliefs

Category: Cases, Free Speech
Schools: Fordham University

On November 17, 2016, the Fordham United Student Government (USG) Senate and Executive Board approved Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP’s) application for recognition, noting that SJP “fulfills a need for open discussion and demonstrates that Fordham is a place that exemplifies diversity of thought.” On December 22, Dean of Students Keith Eldredge overruled the USG and said he would not grant SJP official recognition, writing that he “cannot support an organization whose sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group, and against a specific country” and that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict … often leads to polarization rather than dialogue.” In response to media attention to SJP’s rejection, Fordham officials released a statement reaffirming Eldredge’s decision, claiming “[t]he narrowness of Students for Justice in Palestine’s political focus makes it more akin to a lobbying group than a student club.”

On January 25, 2016, FIRE and the National Coalition Against Censorship wrote a letter to Fordham, calling on the university to reverse its rejection of SJP and reaffirm to students that the university will not renege on its free speech promises.