Loyola University Chicago suspends, then reinstates Students for Justice in Palestine

Group was banned after anti-Israel protest blocked Birthright event, asked Hillel members, "How does it feel to be guilty of ethnic cleansing?”

October 1, 2014 03:30
1 minute read.

THE DOWNTOWN skyscrapers of Chicago rise against the backdrop of Lake Michigan.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Loyola University Chicago suspended and subsequently reinstated its chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

The action followed an anti-Israel protest this month by the SJP chapter that blocked an event promoting Birthright Israel.

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According to a statement released by Loyola, the university informed the chapter on Sept. 19 that it was “temporarily prevented from hosting any on-campus activities or events until their leadership meets with University representatives and the group complies with stated policies and procedures that apply to all student organizations.”

After meetings with university officials on Sept. 25 and 26, the group was allowed to resume its activities.

In a protest on Sept. 9, SJP members lined up in front of a table manned by Hillel students promoting Birthright Israel trips. A student news website, The College Fix, quoted Hillel chapter president Talia Sobel as recounting that students from SJP asked Hillel members, “How does it feel to be an occupier?” and “How does it feel to be guilty of ethnic cleansing?”

The temporary sanctions on SJP came shortly after a member of the group and of the student senate, Israa Elhalawany, was censured by the judicial board of the student government on Sept. 16 for “several Facebook posts over the summer in response to the attacks on Gaza” that included “profanity or expletives.” The board noted that the censure was for the manner of the posts, not the content.

In March, Loyola’s United Student Government Association took two votes on divestment resolutions. The measure at first passed unanimously. In a subsequent vote, it passed narrowly before being vetoed by the student president.

The university’s president dismissed the resolutions as irrelevant.

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