The university becomes the first public institution of higher education to suspend SJP
By: Adam Sabes | Fox News | December 12, 2023
Rutgers University suspended its Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter on Tuesday.
The New Jersey public university issued an "interim suspension" of the pro-Palestinian organization, according to a letter obtained by NorthJersey.com. Associate Dean of Students Michelle Jefferson wrote in the letter that the student organization has violated several university policies.
"You allegedly have had multiple cases of disrupting classes, a program, meals, and students studying," Jefferson wrote.
Jefferson also cited that the university has authority to act whenever administrators find "a reasonable basis to conclude that the continued activities by the student organization pose a substantial and immediate threat to the safety and well-being of others."
A Rutgers spokesperson confirmed to Fox News Digital that the student group was placed on an interim suspension on allegations that the group "disrupted classes, a program, meals, and students studying."
Notably, a shared ancestry investigation by the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights was opened on Monday.
Rutgers joins DC's George Washington University, New York City's Columbia University, and Brandeis University in Massachusetts in taking disciplinary actions against SJP, while becoming the first public university to do so.
Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor Francine Conway wrote a letter to the community on Tuesday titled "Clarifying our Policies and Procedures," which didn't specifically mention SJP.
"In recent weeks, our campus has witnessed a wide range of gatherings and events in response to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. Some of these events have been characterized by moments of unrest that have caused members of our community to fear for their safety. While Rutgers–New Brunswick is a public institution that protects and values free speech and an open exchange of ideas, this exchange cannot come at the expense of individual and campus safety. Below I offer clarification of the university’s policies and procedures for responding to incidents of unrest," Conway wrote.
"One recent incident that occurred at the Rutgers Business School facility in Piscataway has raised questions about the use of academic buildings and the disruption of activities therein. To better understand this incident and the events that led up to it, I have instructed the Rutgers University Police Department to complete a full and thorough investigation, which is currently underway," Conway added. "In the meantime, I can share only that, as with other related incidents, individual students and a student organization have been notified of possible conduct violations. The review process for conduct violations is ongoing and confidential."
One week ago, the SJP chapter posted an Instagram video, which was captioned "WE’RE OCCUPYING THE BUSINESS SCHOOL AND WE’RE HERE ALL NIGHT."
The decision was welcomed by several pro-Israel organizations.
StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein told Fox News Digital in a statement that the pro-Palestinian organization has gone too far on college campuses since the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas.
"Since October 7th, SJP has been extremely aggressive on far too many campuses in threatening ways, including the use of violent, genocidal rally calls which include 'from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,' 'Globalize the Intifada,' and 'there is only one solution, Intifada revolution,'" Rothstein said. "It is therefore no surprise that increasing numbers of universities are making the decision to suspend a student group that combines violent rhetoric with violations of university policies, threatening Jewish students on campus."
In response to the suspension, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., posted on X that, "All students have a right to be safe from threats of violence & hate of any kind on college campuses."
"When 1,200 were murdered, raped, & burned alive by Hamas terrorists, the Rutgers' SJP chapter labeled Oct. 7 as ‘justified retaliation,'" Gottheimer wrote. "I love Rutgers — it’s better than this."