Messages to the Community

A Message from President Shalala: In Response to the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) Demands Letter to the Administration

A Message from Dr. Donna E. Shalala, Interim President

I am responding to the November 9 SJP letter to university leadership.

As an institution our policies and recent statements have always defended free expression and the right of peaceful assembly.

We have already expressed and will continue to affirm our deep concern for the innocent victims of this terrible conflict. 

I can assure you that no tuition dollars are being used to fund any international conflict. Nor do we intend to disband any student organization that exercises their rights under university policies and state and federal laws.

The university will not penalize or exclude students, faculty, or staff from Israel. We are an international university with members of our community from around the world—they are all welcome here. The university does not and will not discriminate or exclude any person based on identity, nationality, or country of origin. All of us must take collective responsibility to respect their humanity and for their physical and emotional safety.

As for disinvestment, the letter includes a broad list of US and multinational companies that operate throughout the Middle East and the world. It is not something we will support.

I was deeply troubled and dismayed by your threat at the end of your letter to punish your fellow students, faculty, and staff if we fail to agree to your terms. 

Any violence, bullying, or disruption against any member of this community that threatens their right to go to class, teach, conduct scholarship and creative practice, and support academic learning will be dealt with firmly under our rules of conduct.

Let me be very clear. We respect your right to peacefully protest and to disagree with the political, social, or economic views of any member of our community—including me.

However, threatening this community’s ability to continue our educational mission is unacceptable.

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