Rutgers Becomes First Uni to Suspend SJP Chapter

( – The ongoing war between Israel and Hamas hasn’t done much for the reputation of US colleges. The low point was, no doubt, the shameful evasion of three university presidents when Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY) asked them if calling for the mass murder of Jews would violate their schools’ policies. However, there have been plenty of other examples of anti-Semitism and pro-Hamas bias. It’s not all bad news, though. Rutgers University has just shut down a pro-Palestine student group.

Rutgers Suspends Protest Group

On December 12, Rutgers, a multi-campus public university headquartered in New Brunswick, New Jersey, issued a suspension order against its chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). A letter from Associate Dean of Students Michelle Jefferson explains that the group is accused of “multiple cases of disrupting classes, a program, meals, and students studying,” which violates several university policies. Jefferson stated that SJP has engaged in disorderly and disruptive conduct, inappropriate use of campus facilities, and alleged vandalism. She added that the school has the power to take action if administrators think a student organization’s activities threaten the safety and well-being of others.

The same day the suspension, which the university describes as “interim,” was issued, Chancellor Francine Conway wrote an open letter to the university affirming that the college upholds free speech, but adding that the campus had seen “moments of unrest” linked to the war and warning that “the open exchange of ideas” can’t be allowed to put people in danger.

To illustrate how extreme SJP can be, Representative Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) said on X (formerly Twitter) that the Rutgers chapter had called Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel “justified retaliation.” Around 1,200 Israelis, including many children, were killed in the sneak attack, which ended a 5-month ceasefire. Another 139 are still being held hostage by Hamas.

Roz Rothstein, the CEO of pro-Israel nonprofit StandWithUs, is openly critical of SJP, saying the group has been “extremely aggressive” and uses slogans linked to violence and genocide. He praised universities that have moved to shut down chapters. So far several private colleges have suspended SJP chapters. Rutgers is the first public university to take action against it.

SJP Under Pressure

The student group’s support for Hamas has triggered a conservative backlash across the country. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has called for SJP to be banned from his state’s public universities; an SJP member has also been arrested for assault at an “unauthorized” event at the University of Rochester, NY. Students have always dabbled in political activism, but there’s a growing feeling that SJP has gone too far –- and some schools have had enough of it.

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