Crossed lines of protest, free speech at Northeastern

March 29, 2014

By Joan Vennochi at The Boston Globe

NORTHEASTERN SAID it suspended a pro-Palestinian rights student group because it broke multiple university rules — not because it wants to silence controversial speech.

The group, Students for Justice in Palestine, believes it was targeted for its politics.

Whatever the reason, speech was squelched.

A private university is not bound by the First Amendment. But any school of supposed higher learning should think twice before adopting that exception as one of its guiding principles.

Northeastern’s SJP chapter was suspended after members slipped 600 “mock eviction” notices under dorm doors to draw attention to what the group calls Israel’s “apartheid policies against the Palestinian people.”

Michael Armini, a Northeastern spokesman, said the suspension came only after “a series of violations, which included vandalizing university property, disrupting another group’s event, failure to write a civility statement, and distributing flyers without permission.” Added Armini: “The students have been pretty successful at convincing some members of the press that this is a speech issue, but it’s simply not the case...

Schools: Northeastern University