[Marxism] Jewish Anti-Zionist Student Given Three Year Suspension For Megaphone Use
tony at riseup.net
Wed May 5 09:03:44 MDT 2004
A young friend of mine, Dan Freeman-Maloy, has just been suspended from York University (Toronto) for using a megaphone. Dan is a longtime Jewish Palestinian rights activist who has been able to maintain decent grades while doing social justice work.
Letters supporting Dan and opposing the three year suspension (effectively an expulsion) are urgently needed right now.
Please write to York University President Lorna Marsden at presidnt at yorku.ca (no "e") and cc your letter to freespeechyorku at yahoo.ca.
Tony Tracy, Toronto
Urgent: Please act against the expulsion of Dan Freeman-Maloy from York University!
(see letter from Dan at the bottom of this appeal with further background info on his case)
To All Concerned Community Members:
Last week, a 3rd-year undergraduate student of political science, Dan Freeman-Maloy, received a letter informing him of a 3-year suspension from York University, simply for using a megaphone on campus. The letter referred only to his "use of an unauthorized sound amplification device" at an "unauthorized demonstration". He was given no information on how to appeal the suspension and was threatened with charges of trespass should he enter the campus grounds after 1 May. The suspension comes into effect on the same day that Dan is to begin work at the University's principal newspaper, Excalibur.
Dan is a Jewish student who has been vocal in defence of Palestinian human rights, as well as in workers' rights and other social justice campaigns. His suspension comes following a theatrical display on campus on March 16, 2004, in which students were commemorating the anniversary of the death of US peace activist, Rachel Corrie, who died last year in the Gaza Strip. At the display, Palestine solidarity activists were spat upon, kicked and threatened by an aggressive counter-demonstration. The university administration did nothing to protect the students. Instead, in an attempt to silence critical dissent on campus, they chose to suspend Dan.
Dan is due to complete his degree after one year. He has an excellent academic record and has been an active and respected participant in the life of the York University community. Despite the fact that the university's own legal guidelines (Presidential Regulation #2) states that students be entitled to an administrative procedure allowing for student appeals (Section E, #3), Dan has been suspended by administrative fiat - in an impersonal letter without any possibility of appeal. Furthermore, York's regulations specify that only serious infractions (such as a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code or illegal behaviour) warrant expulsion. This demonstrates total disregard for his academic future and his right to an education, as well as to York's own procedural regulations.
This expulsion is not only callous toward Dan's future, but is politically motivated. Megaphones have been used without authorization at countless other "unauthorized demonstrations" in Vari Hall without a single student being penalized, let alone suspended for 3 years, which is a de facto expulsion. Moreover, other students used a megaphone at this very demonstration without any consequences. Dan is being singled out and scapegoated because he is an articulate and effective Jewish advocate of Palestinian human rights. Or, as a member of York's Board of Directors explained to a concerned graduate student outside a recent press conference, because he is a "rabble-rouser."
President Marsden is not impartial in this matter, and her record is clear. She has consistently supported right-wing speakers on campus - "Campus Watch" host Daniel Pipes last year, Israeli Minister Natan Sharansky (a proponent of mass expulsion of Palestinians to neighbouring countries) this year. Last year, her administration also brought mounted police on to campus for the first time ever, and coordinated to have three organizers of an anti-war student strike arrested. York's campus has become more and more repressive recently, as exorbitant and arbitrary "security fees" have been forced upon student groups hosting dissident speakers, as club activities have been prohibited in various public spaces on campus, and as certain student organizations have faced outright bans. This crackdown on critical dialogue - the cornerstone of higher learning - marks a significant step backward for all members of the York community.
We urge everyone who is concerned about maintaining York University's campus as a progressive space, and all those intent on protecting student rights to free expression and assembly, to contact President Marsden.
We are demanding the immediate reversal of the decision to expel Dan Freeman-Maloy from campus for his political activities. York University prides itself on a reputation as a progressive space where critical development and engagement is encouraged, not stifled. If this reputation is to be maintained, the current administration must act accordingly.
York Free Speech Committee
How to get involved:
Below we have attached a letter to President Marsden demanding that she immediately reverse the suspension of Dan Freeman-Maloy, so that he can complete his studies and report for work on campus without fear of being charged with trespassing. Please sign the letter below and send it to President Marsden at presidnt at yorku.ca (no "e") and cc freespeechyorku at yahoo.ca. Or, better yet, write a letter outlining these demands yourself, and get whatever organizations you are a part of to draft letters of their own.
Letters can also be postmarked to:
Office of the President
4700 Keele St.
Canada M3J 1P3
For more information on our ongoing campaign, contact freespeechyorku at yahoo.ca
Thank you, and we appreciate all of your help!
I recently learned of the 3-year suspension of Dan Freeman-Maloy for his use of a megaphone at an "unauthorized" demonstration. I find your decision appalling for a number of reasons. First, your decision is a violation of Mr. Freeman-Maloy's right to freedom of expression as it is a response to his participation in political activity, not his use of a sound amplification device (many students have used a megaphone without authorization in Vari Hall - why is Dan being singled out?). Second, in contradiction with your own regulations on student conduct, your decision provided no opportunity for Dan to defend himself, nor an opportunity for an appeal. Third, this decision reflects a troubling pattern of silencing progressive political activity on campus (including banning tabling and leafleting for political purposes, and imposing exorbitant "security fees" on student groups). Finally, given York's official commitment to the pursuit of social justice (as declared in the un
iversity's mission statement), it would seem that you should support and actively create space for social justice activism on campus, instead of shutting it down.
I demand that you immediately reverse your decision to summarily expel Dan Freeman-Maloy. You are the head of a prestigious academic institution with a reputation for academic freedom and political diversity. I am requesting that York uphold its own standards.
From: "Dan Freeman-Maloy" <dfm at yorku.ca>
Sent: 05/05/04 3:55:15 AM
Subject: My Expulsion from York University
My Expulsion from York University: an appeal for support and reconsideration
On April 30, 2004, I received a letter signed by York University President
and Vice-Chancellor Lorna Marsden declaring that I "will have no purpose on
campus" after May 1, 2004. If I set foot on York's campus at any point in
the three years following this date, she threatens, I will be charged for
trespassing. My expulsion comes in the context of escalating repression of
student dissent by York's administration, and sets an ominous precedent
regarding student rights to freedom of speech, expression and assembly.
The administration's declaration that I now "have no purpose on campus"
is baffling. I am a full-time student at York, and May 1 was both the very day
I formally started my job as an editor at York's main student paper, Excalibur,
and nearly three weeks before my last exam. I am being treated as if I have
acted dangerously and criminally, even in the absence of any allegations of
criminally dangerous conduct.
In fact, those looking for a description of my behavior as dramatic as the
administration's response to it are likely to be disappointed. The alleged
crime for which I have been exiled from my school for three years is use of
"an unauthorized sound amplification device" (that is, a megaphone) on two
separate occasions: October 22, 2003, and March 16, 2004. While general issues
of freedom of expression and procedural fairness lie at the heart of this
matter, I still feel compelled to address the specific allegations in turn.
Firstly, the events of October 22, 2003. On this date, the administration
provided space for "Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Appreciation Day," an event at
which people sporting Israeli military paraphernalia congregated in one
of York University's principal public spaces to celebrate Israeli militarism.
The mayor of an illegal Israeli settlement led the event, which was attended by
many people who have served in the forces. In this situation, as a Jewish anti-
nationalist and an avid anti-militarist, I did use a megaphone to highlight the
event's glaring impropriety. But vocal opposition to militarism, even
expressed loudly, is far from criminally threatening.
The second instance cited, March 16, was the first anniversary of the death
of Rachel Corrie, a US peace activist who was crushed to death by an Israeli
bulldozer as she tried to block it from demolishing a Palestinian
family's home in the Gaza Strip. What happened on that day was without
precedent in my experience. While approximately thirty of us set up a mock
check-point, some dressed as soldiers and some as civilians, a crowd of
some 150 militant Zionists that had been congregating nearby in preparation
proceeded to rush our display. We had postponed our action for a period to
avoid a clash, but were unsuccessful. We were surrounded, and for nearly an
hour faced physical and verbal intimidation.
In this context, I was one of many students organizing the mock check-point
who tried, through chants and small speeches, to let confused onlookers know
the purpose of the display that was being aggressively swarmed. President
Marsden is contending that this somehow "contributed to the threat of harm to
the safety and well-being of York University community members." If this is the
case, why am I not being charged criminally? Why did the administration wait so
many months to paint my conduct as dangerous?
When I was informed in early November by Ms. Ridley from the Office of
Student Affairs (OSA) that I needed to review the student code of conduct,
which she alleged I had broken on October 22, I told her that I would do so
and then get in touch with her. That same month, I visited her to set up an
appointment (I was in and out of the OSA office throughout this period
regarding the status of Students for a Critical Consciousness, a campus club of
which I am President). She informed me that she would need to coordinate the
meeting with the security personnel who had been present on the day in
question. I told her that the meeting had been called at her request, and that
I was in no rush to meet - Ms. Ridley smugly responded that she was not
surprised, and that she would contact me in the near future. She never followed
The administration had every opportunity to contact me. Again, I am the
President of a recognized student club, my York University email account is
listed online as the group's contact information (and is used readily by York's
library to notify me of late fines), and I even had a minor debate in late
February/early March in the pages of Excalibur with Nancy White, York's
director for media relations (regarding some of our school's questionable
corporate connections). Plainly, it is hardly as if I had gone underground.
Over the past year, as a York-based social justice activist who is both
Jewish and anti-Zionist, I have been called a "self-hater" and a "terrorist"; I
have received death threats. Now, the administration of Lorna Marsden is
topping all of this off with a summary suspension order. York University's
mission statement describes the school as "a community of faculty, students and
staff committed to academic freedom [and] social justice." In the hope that
this is truly the case, I appeal to the administration to allow me to return to
my studies and to my job without any further harassment.
To everyone else reading this (in case the administration's response is not
immediately favorable), the York Free Speech Committee, which recently formed
to deal with this situation, will be circulating an important call-out shortly.
Please keep posted on this situation, and consider providing your personal
support to our campaign if you get the chance.
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