Palestine Legal Urges Pitzer College to Protect Rights of Students to Display Mock Apartheid Wall
This post was updated on April 7, 2015.
Today, Palestine Legal sent Pitzer College President Laura Trombley a letter advising the College to respect the rights of Pitzer Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) who will temporarily display a simulated Israeli apartheid wall on campus in order to raise awareness about Palestinian suffering. When SJP students met with the Dean of Students earlier this month to discuss their plan for the display, they were told it would trigger discrimination complaints and that they would need approval from the Campus Aesthetics Committee. This committee proceeded to reject the students’ proposal without formal explanation, but amidst ample evidence that the decision was made in order to suppress SJP’s message in favor of Palestinian rights.
Palestine Legal warns the College not to interfere with the political expression of SJP students protected by the First Amendment, by California law, and by Pitzer’s own policies. The letter reminds the College that censoring SJP’s political speech because some students may object to it “is precisely the kind of viewpoint discrimination the Supreme Court of the United States has found to be unconstitutional in decades of rulings.”
In a press statement, Palestine Legal staff attorney Liz Jackson explained,
We hope Pitzer College thinks twice before violating its own policies to censor SJP’s advocacy for Palestinian rights … Pitzer claims to embrace a compelling interest in unfettered inquiry and the collective search for knowledge. … [T]here can be no ‘Palestine exception’ to this policy.
To read Palestine Legal’s full letter, click here.
To read Pitzer SJP's press statement, click here.
UPDATE: After Palestine Legal warned the university not to infringe on the students’ speech rights, the students were allowed to display the wall. No disciplinary action was taken against the students.