Fordham Appeals Students for Justice in Palestine Court Ruling


Photo Courtesy of The Ram Archives

Fordham is appealing a ruling that allows SJP to exist as a club on campus.

In April of 2017, five students from Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) brought a case against the university, claiming the institution violated its own policy by vetoing the Lincoln Center United Student Government (USG-LC) 2016 approval of the club. In August 2019, the club won its case in Awad, et al. v. Fordham University, requiring the university to recognize SJP as a university-sanctioned club. Now, the university has filed a notice of appeal.

Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university, declined to comment as the case is currently in litigation.

“Right now the club is up and functioning, mostly functioning downtown rather than uptown, and that’s fine,” said McShane. “But now we’re back into the courts. So I can’t comment.”

According to Robert Howe, assistant vice president for communications, the university is unsure of the court’s timeline as of late, but the club will continue to function as usual in the meantime.

Batool Abdelhafez, FCLC ’21, an Arab, Muslim student and president of Students for Justice in Palestine, said they are not surprised by the university’s decision to appeal.

“Even though a legal court has recognized that banning SJP was legally fraught, arbitrary, and breached even Fordham’s own rules, the Fordham administration will continue to denounce and silence our explicitly anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist, anti-racist, and anti-capitalist advocacy on campus.”

However, they said SJP’s efforts will not be affected by the appeal process and the club will continue to do as much work as possible oncampus.

Since the group achieved club status this summer, Abdelhafez said SJP has attempted to educate the university community on the Palestinian liberation movement and create awareness about colonization and oppression. This has not come without initial, expected difficulties regarding budget management.

However, the group has hosted several events on campus this semester.

“Although it has been difficult to function without a previously constructed budget, we have hosted a speaker from Jewish Voice for Peace, hosted several club meetings (such as Palestine 101), and we are scheduled to have our first club outing to the Palestine Museum on October 13th,” said Abdelhafez.

SJP plans to have two more speaker events for the remainder of the semester. The group has not released information on who these speakers will be.

Abdelhafez said they and the other members of SJP will continue to stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people and call attention to the political repression in Palestine.

Regardless of the appeal outcome, they said SJP will not go anywhere.

“Our voices will reverberate throughout the campus and our message will remain clear: No one is free until we are all free, and we find our strength in political consciousness, direct action, and community organizing,” they said.