Rutgers SJP is reinstated and still defiant

Editor’s Note: The following statement was released by Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers – New Brunswick on January 17, 2023.

Today, as a result of our collective efforts as students, we proudly announce that Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has been reinstated at Rutgers University but is on probation until December 2024. We recognize the attempted suspension of our organization is nothing short of a political posturing by Rutgers University in response to Zionist pressure.

Social media image in solidarity with SJP at Rutgers (Image courtesy of Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers – New Brunswick)

From the beginning, Rutgers knew they could not legally uphold our suspension, and after the rise of the “We Are All SJP” campaign, which was a mass mobilizing effort of over 150 Rutgers student organizations on campus expressing their support for a reinstated SJP, they knew that the academic community would not let this unjust suspension happen either.

Rutgers, a university that prides itself on diversity, could have supported Palestinian students suffering during this time. Instead, our university has chosen to suppress our voices, experiences, and demands.

Continuing repression

On December 11, during finals week, we were silently studying, collectively wearing keffiyehs, and had signs such as “Divest Now” to bring awareness to Rutgers’ complicity in profiting off of Palestinian suffering. As a result of Zionist peers’ discomfort, Library administrators pulled two members of the Students for Justice in Palestine into a private room to ask us to remove our sign. Meanwhile, when Palestinian students are harassed, securitized, and uncomfortable on our campus, Zionists are never intimidated by faculty, administration, or staff. Israeli sympathizers are promised security, comfort, and permission to grieve. Palestinian American students are not. We were simply studying quietly and disturbed for no legitimate reason.

On December 12, the Students for Justice in Palestine learned we were suspended by Rutgers University when a reporter asked for comment on the leaked document of suspension. The Administration cited alleged violations of student conduct and the University’s “Interim Action” policy, which allows it to immediately suspend student organizations it believes “pose a substantial and immediate threat to the safety and well-being of others.”

As of December 18, we have yet to formally receive the suspension letter. The Rutgers Administration’s idea of formally suspending us was through an inaccessible portal, followed by our repeated ask for access, and finally, by receiving the letter on December 12 via a forwarded email with the PDF attachment sent by our advisor rather than the Administration themselves. Despite our efforts, the Administration has taken no public accountability or released a public condemnation of the leak of the letter, nor has publicly acknowledged the student endangerment caused by their unprofessionalism. Since news of our suspension broke, students have reached out to follow up with various deans multiple times each day, none of which have been extensively responsive. Deans have made numerous “attempts” to send over documents but have instead sent broken links, blank Google Docs, or inaccessible, locked pages that must be logged into and do not work.

From December 18-20, the Students for Justice in Palestine members did not have the typical finals week most students on campus have. Instead of studying for exams, we were in hours-long political conduct hearings meetings with the Rutgers administration, distracting us from our student priorities. This is not the first time the Rutgers administration strategically overwhelmed us at an important time of the year; they distracted us from finals week two years ago as well. It should also be noted that not all of us had accommodating teachers who would give us extensions, and these meetings took much time to prepare for.

December 20 is one of many examples of our conduct meetings. We had a four-and-a-half hour-long meeting where we were interrogated for voicing our concerns against the killing and the hate in Gaza, and the administrator did not even give condolences to one of our members after he vulnerably told him that his family was massacred.

We recognize that these political meetings were performative and not interested in hearing our voices, instead just hastening the process of our punishment and strategically delaying us in speaking out against the ethnic cleansing of our people. The unprofessional manner in which the Rutgers administration has treated their grieving Palestinian students is yet another example of the disappointing and poor leadership on campus.

Activists with Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers – New Brunswick presenting at a press conference on January 17, 2023 (Photo: Justice in Palestine at Rutgers – New Brunswick)

Our demands

1. Rutgers University must identify and terminate the position of the Administrator who leaked a private suspension letter, including the name and contact information of a member of the Students for Justice in Palestine, to media outlets and issue a public apology for compromising student safety.

2. We reiterate our previous five demands made to the Rutgers Administration, which we have received no response on despite repeatedly addressing the Administration with them since November 9.

3. Rutgers University must incorporate anti-Palestinian racism, which includes Nakba denial, into all of its mandatory DEI training and race-based curricula for faculty and staff.

4. Rutgers University must provide resources for Palestinian and Arab students on campus in the form of an Arab Cultural Center.

Our previous five demands:

1. Rutgers must divest its endowment fund from Israeli bonds and corporations upholding Israeli settler-colonialism, apartheid, and genocide.

2. Rutgers must end its agreement with Tel Aviv University, which welcomes TAU as a partner in the HELIX Innovation Hub.

3. Rutgers must protect Palestinian students and advocates exercising their political rights.

4. Rutgers must release a statement from the office of the President acknowledging the
ongoing genocide against Palestinians, its impact on the Palestinian community at our
University, and advocating for a ceasefire.

5. Rutgers must hire additional professors specializing in Palestine and settler-colonial
studies and institute a department of Middle East Studies.

To President Holloway

We, Students for Justice in Palestine, are also your STUDENTS.

We would like our university to treat us as STUDENTS.

We would like to be a part of your “beloved community” if you only let us in.

President Holloway, in your adoption of the Zionist narrative that our existence is a threat to Israel, you have knowingly or unknowingly securitized your students.

President Holloway, In your lack of scrutiny of discourse that frames our calls for freedom as inflammatory, you have knowingly or unknowingly endorsed our permanent subjugation.

President Holloway, in your continuing financing and normalization of apartheid, you have knowingly or unknowingly supported the ongoing genocidal campaign that threatens my family, the kin and beloved of so many students, faculty, and staff. It threatens to unravel the fabric of our humanity.


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