PSLS Sends Letter to Ohio University President Explaining Duty to Protect Megan Marzec’s Speech Supporting Palestinian Rights
Yesterday evening, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support sent Ohio University President McDavis a letter explaining the university’s obligations to protect student speech critical of Israel in light of recent calls to punish student senate president Megan Marzec after she poured a bucket of fake blood over her head to protest Israel’s human rights abuses of Palestinians. Similar letters have been sent by PSLS and its partners to nearly 200 schools since October, 2013, after the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights in August 2013 dismissed three complaints by pro-Israel students and organizations claiming that they faced a hostile anti-Semitic environment because of speech activities critical of Israel on campus. The dismissals made clear that vigorous debate on matters of public concern are part and parcel of a higher education experience, and do not constitute discrimination or harassment under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The letter advises President McDavis that recent Department of Education decisions:
make it clear that public universities violate the First Amendment when they stifle, burden, or otherwise censor student and departmental activities on the basis of the viewpoint expressed, including in the context of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Such actions undertaken against expressive activities based on their viewpoint or content are strictly prohibited under the First Amendment. Worse, burdening speech in this manner undermines the purpose of a university (whether public or private), which is to expose students to a wide range of viewpoints.
(emphasis in original).
To read the full letter, click here.