‘Fordham should be ashamed’: Bitter outcome for pro-Palestinian group after university’s four-year fight to censor

May 14, 2021

Last week, the New York State Court of Appeals declined to hear the appeal of the student-plaintiffs in Awad v. Fordham University, a case challenging Fordham’s 2017 denial of recognition to a prospective chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine on account of the group’s viewpoint. The decision from New York’s highest court leaves in place a state appellate court’s December 2020 ruling in favor of the university.

Fordham should be ashamed of itself.

This outcome is a bitter setback for student expressive rights at private universities in New York. Any person or organization committed to freedom of expression on campus should be deeply disappointed and concerned by this result.  

As FIRE has argued since 2017 in letters to Fordham and amicus curiae briefs filed in court, and as the trial court correctly recognized, Fordham’s denial of recognition to Students for Justice in Palestine plainly violated the university’s policies for club recognition and its promises of free expression. By failing to reverse the appellate court’s misguided deference to Fordham and its finding that the student-plaintiffs’ graduation had mooted the case, the Court of Appeals’ inaction grants private institutions broad latitude to censor student speech in violation of institutional policies and promises. 

Fordham should be ashamed of itself. 

Instead of honoring its stated commitment to freedom of expression, Fordham silenced its own students because of their viewpoint. Instead of recognizing the error of its ways, Fordham doubled down and spent the next four years fighting in court for the right to censor with impunity. 

Students, faculty, alumni, and the general public now know — if there were any doubt — that Fordham’s promises of free expression aren’t worth a dime. And Fordham will spend plenty of its students’ and parents’ dimes to keep it that way.

Schools:  Fordham University

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