STUDENTS FOR JUSTICE IN PALESTINE AT THE OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY (SJP-OSU) HOLD THE ‘FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA’ BANNER AT THE DAY OF RESISTANCE PROTEST IN COLUMBUS, OHIO, OCTOBER 13, 2023. (PHOTO: PAUL BECKER/BECKER1999)
We, the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters across the Big Ten Universities, representing students from various regions of the United States — including the Midwest, East Coast, and South Coast — strongly assert the imperative need to voice our concerns regarding the alarming threats posed to freedom of expression and assembly. These threats materialize through implicit biases and the pervasive campus atmosphere molded by our university administrations.
Recent events across each Big Ten University have highlighted a troubling trend wherein the advocacy for Palestinian rights is regularly demonized and criminalized. Blatant double standards have been applied to free expression on campus, further marginalizing Palestinian and pro-Palestinian students within a so-called “inclusive” environment. This trend routinely manifests under the guise of a purported breach of the student codes of conduct, creating a deceptive facade that obscures the true nature of the situation. This biased enforcement of rules imposes an undue burden on student activists, leaving them vulnerable to targeted actions such as doxxing, hate crimes, and hate speech.
Suppression of pro-Palestinian voices not only contradicts the principles of free speech and academic freedom but also heightens the severe concerns regarding the safety and well-being of students holding such viewpoints. Recent events, including the profiling of a Harvard graduate student, the shooting of Palestinian students in Vermont, and the latest attack at Columbia University where former Israeli occupation soldiers used an illegal chemical “skunk” on pro-Palestinian students, emphasize the immediate need for our administration to maintain a campus climate that encourages open dialogue while also ensuring the safety of students. Urgent and decisive action from our university administrations is not just imperative now; it is long overdue and cannot be delayed further.
We stress the need for a proactive approach that addresses the simultaneous surge in Islamophobia and other anti-Arab sentiments. We reject racism and bigotry in all its forms, and as such, we reject the misappropriation of antisemitism as a weapon to silence pro-Palestinian voices. The lack of sincere effort to address this issue not only perpetuates a double standard but actively obstructs progress towards addressing various forms of discrimination, thereby impeding the establishment of a genuinely “inclusive” environment.
We strongly oppose the alarming trend where university administrations, seemingly in a misguided effort to protect free expression, inadvertently foster an environment conducive to Islamophobia and anti-Arab hate speech. Administrations are employing McCarthyist tactics to suppress students — protecting certain types of speech while unjustly censoring others. Moreover, active efforts have successfully prevented university presidents from attempting to distinguish genuine pro-Palestinian advocacy from groundless allegations, wrongfully maligning such activism as antisemitic speech.
Deliberate and aggressive campaigns such as doxxing and other personal harassment that target Palestinian advocacy against SJP chapters reveal the concentrated efforts to suppress specific viewpoints on campuses. We call on our universities to unequivocally categorize doxxing — especially of student activists — as a clear violation of student conduct policies. Taking this proactive step is crucial to ensuring the safety and well-being of student activists on campus. Aggressive doxxing campaigns not only jeopardize the security of students but also establish a dangerous precedent, allowing for more extreme measures to be deemed acceptable, such as the unjust arrests that have occurred globally on college campuses.
The University of Michigan stands as a stark example, with over 43 students encountering direct repression, intimidation, unjust arrests, and unwarranted charges due to their campus activism. Examples of these actions include brute force against peaceful protestors, with one student enduring the violation of having her hijab forcibly ripped off. These are not isolated incidents limited to any particular campus; instead, there has been a widespread systemic effort aimed at suppressing pro-Palestinian activism, both on and off campus. Such actions infringe on our right to protest, demanding not just attention but collective condemnation and an active commitment to upholding democratic principles. The gravity of this situation calls for immediate action to ensure that such abuses of power are opposed and punished and the rights of students to engage in activism are protected.
In this same breath, to promote ethical practices on our college campuses, we call for our universities to be transparent regarding university funds and to immediately divest from all entities associated with the internationally condemned state of Israel. We call for universities to uphold their commitment to opposing all manifestations of racism and bigotry by explicitly addressing and combating the human rights violations and discriminatory practices faced by Palestinian people through divestment. Furthermore, we underscore the importance of transparency concerning university funds and the need for institutions to openly share details regarding funds received and disbursed in connection with their activities that support and uphold the illegal occupation. These actions allow universities to align their investments with ethical and humanitarian values while rejecting discriminatory practices.
In the face of previous and ongoing attacks, we strongly reaffirm our dedication to opposing all forms of racism—including both Islamophobia and antisemitism—as explicitly stated in the purpose statements of each of our respective chapters, as we remain steadfast in upholding the principles of solidarity with marginalized groups globally. We, the undersigned, are appalled by our universities’ distraction tactics to draw attention away from our advocacy, and we will continue to hold our universities accountable for their complicity in the Palestinian genocide.
Released by SJP Chapters at,
Indiana University – Bloomington
Michigan State University
Pennsylvania State University
Rutgers University – New Brunswick
The Ohio State University
University of Illinois Urbana – Champaign
University of Iowa
University of Maryland – College Park
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
University of Wisconsin – Madison