Claremont Colleges botch response to student speech critical of Israel

 Mock "eviction" flyer distributed at claremont colleges

Mock "eviction" flyer distributed at claremont colleges

Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights wrote to the presidents of the five Claremont Colleges demanding they fix a botched job on free speech.

Students at the Five Colleges (“5Cs”) in southern California distributed mock “eviction” flyers in campus dorms on Monday March 7th to raise awareness about Israel's home demolition policies. In response, the 5Cs’ Council of Presidents approved a "campus safety alert"  – from an emergency email address typically used for kidnappings and sexual assault – broadcasting false accusations that the flyers targeted Jewish students. The email also warned Students for Justice in Palestine that the municipal Claremont Police Department was investigating.

In a petition, Students for Justice in Palestine demanded that the Presidents “apologize to our community for criminalizing political speech and scaring all of us.”

Student groups on multiple other campuses have conducted similar mock eviction flyering actions, provoking nearly identical accusations that evenly distributed flyers about Israeli policy of home demolition targeted Jewish students. In every case the accusations were determined to be false after the university investigated. (See for example, NortheasternFlorida Atlantic University and Rutgers.)

The letter from Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights calls on the Presidents of the Claremont Colleges to clarify that mock eviction flyers or similar speech cannot be criminally punished, and to acknowledge that speech critical of the Israeli government should not be conflated with anti-Jewish bias.