On Friday, in a case asking a Manhattan court to direct Fordham University to recognize Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) as an official club, Fordham students filed a motion to add a new petitioner, sophomore Veer Shetty to the case. The motion notes that in the two years since the lawsuit was first filed, three of the four original petitioners had graduated. The fourth student, Julie Norris, is graduating in May.
“It's unbelievable Fordham won't let us organize,” said Veer Shetty. “Just existing on campus as people who support Palestine is now a form of resistance. We have to overcome this administrative obstacle to be sure we can focus our energy on addressing the actual issue - Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians.”
Represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, Palestine Legal, and cooperating counsel Alan Levine, the lawsuit argues that Fordham has deprived them of their freedom to advocate for causes in which they believe without arbitrary censorship by college officials, a right guaranteed by Fordham’s own policies.
“We will continue to call for justice in Palestine despite Fordham's shameful actions,” said Julie Norris. “There is nothing progressive about a school that bans its students from standing in solidarity with movements against oppression around the world.”
More than a year ago, the students argued their case before a Manhattan judge. The court has yet to make a decision.
“It’s unfortunate that there has been no action from the court for over a year,” said Palestine Legal senior staff attorney Radhika Sainath. “An entire generation of students have graduated without being able to participate in SJP. Veer injects new life into this fight for political expression and advocacy.
UPDATE: On March 4, Fordham University filed a motion opposing adding Veer Shetty to the lawsuit, claiming that Veer could organize for Palestinian rights under a different organizational name. Palestine Legal and CCR replied to Fordham's filing stating that the college's argument "entirely misses the point ... Mr. Shetty, like Petitioners before him, wants to be a member of a group called Students for Justice in Palestine, which is what Fordham refuses to permit.
View the full timeline of events, select media coverage, and letters of support at our case page.