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Academic Senate passes resolution protecting free speech around Palestine

Students+participate+in+a+protest+in+support+of+Palestine+and+for+free+speech+outside+of+the+Columbia+University+campus+on+Nov.+15%2C+2023%2C+in+New+York+City.+
Spencer Platt/Getty Images/TNS
Students participate in a protest in support of Palestine and for free speech outside of the Columbia University campus on Nov. 15, 2023, in New York City.

In the wake of the war between Israel and Hamas that began last October, discourse surrounding the war and the broader Israel-Palestine conflict has vastly grown in the United States, and especially on college campuses. In such a contentious discussion, it is easy for supporters of either side to fall prey to their worst instincts and espouse the most extreme possible views, or even try to censor those on opposing sides. Indeed, several cases of censorship have been reported of both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine activists on college campuses, sometimes as an overreaction to real or perceived anti-Semitism and/or Islamophobia and sometimes out of pure desire to silence the “opposition.”

Reacting to multiple reported instances of censorship of Palestinian activists, San Diego Mesa College’s Academic Senate put a resolution to the floor on March 4 to reaffirm the school’s commitment to “the protection of freedom of free speech [sic] and academic freedom in the face of censorship around Palestinian discourse.”

The resolution was, as Academic Senate resolutions go, quite broad and sweeping, ranging from a recognition that the Palestinian struggle is one of an indigenous people against supposed colonizers to the distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. The text of the resolution also explicitly protects events that use the phrases “settler colonialism” and “genocide” to describe Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, as well as the rallying cry “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” from censorship.  History professor John Crocitti, who pushed forth the resolution, argued that these phrases “[do] not imply that Jewish or Israeli individuals should not also be free to live peacefully in the region.”

In a subsequent meeting of the Academic Senate on March 18, the resolution was put to a vote, passing with an overwhelming 25 Senators in support, while only 5 voted against and 9 abstained.

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About the Contributor
Jacob Repkin
Jacob Repkin, Editor-in-Chief
Jacob Repkin is the Editor-in-Chief at the Mesa Press, and is a second year student at San Diego Mesa College. He is bilingual in English and Russian. He plans to transfer to the California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo in the fall of 2024 to obtain his Bachelor's degree in Journalism. He is a San Diego native, and spent much of his childhood living in Clairemont. In his free time, Repkin likes to read, write, hike, and spend time with his friends and family.
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