On Sunday evening, February 21, members of Marquette University’s Students for Justice in Palestine erected a mock Israeli separation wall on campus to kick off Israeli Apartheid Week. The wall featured slogans and pictures that appear on the actual separation wall in Palestine. They had reserved the space and received approval from the University administration for their fliers and publicity. But the next morning, the wall was gone; the University administration had confiscated it.
When students inquired about the confiscation, an administrator informed them that she had “consulted with relevant colleagues” and determined that the content of the wall was concerning, saying that certain “phrases and representations” are “likely to cause great offense.” Because of the “concerning nature of the content of the display,” she continued, “[the administration] cannot approve the wall being displayed again.”
Yesterday, in a letter to the Marquette University Dean of Students, Palestine Legal stated, “[t]he University’s actions are contrary to Marquette’s stated values and principles of free expression and academic freedom that are elemental to institutions of higher education, and appear to violate students’ rights under applicable law.”
Marquette students have put up a mock wall for the last two years. Marquette administrators have admitted before that they consulted with university community members, including the Jewish Student Union and Hillel, about the acceptability of SJP’s activities.
Palestine Legal called on Marquette to immediately issue a statement reiterating its support for student speech on campus, to ensure that SJP’s speech is not censored by groups that are opposed to its message of freedom and self-determination for Palestinians, and to allow SJP to display the wall as originally planned.
Palestine Legal’s letter can be found here.
See Marquette SJP’s statement here.