Pitzer College Betrays Progressive Values, Applies Palestine Exception to Free Speech

Pitzer SJP 

Pitzer SJP 

Palestine Legal urges Pitzer College to respect the demands of a student petition asking that the Board of Trustees rescind its interference with student support for Palestinian human rights.

In April 2017, the Student Senate at Pitzer, one of the Claremont Colleges in southern California, announced that it would no longer use student activities funds to make purchases from five companies complicit in the occupation of Palestinian territories in violation of international law.

It was not the first time the Pitzer Student Senate used its purchasing power to implement progressive values. Students have previously boycotted Wal-Mart and single-use plastic bottles.

But here the social justice issue is Palestinian rights, and the Pitzer Board has applied a “Palestine exception” to free speech.

The Pitzer College Board of Trustees rescinded the students’ decision, in an unprecedented step the board admitted was a break from its 54-year history of respecting student autonomy. The Board’s statement came in June after months of backlash from off-campus Israel advocacy organizations, and while many students were away for the summer, so they could not form a democratic response. The Board’s statement largely regurgitated flawed arguments made by right-wing pro-Israel groups such as the Zionist Organization of America.

The student petition demands that the Pitzer College Board of Trustees respect the democratic decision of the Student Senate to amend the budget bylaws to support Palestinian human rights.

Palestine Legal wrote to provide legal background and urge the Board to comply with students’ demands. Read our letter here.

Sign the petition here.