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Mar 19, 2014 02:54 PM EDT

Northeastern University Suspends Pro-Palestinian Group, Students Blame The Suspension On Discrimination


Northeastern University in Massachusetts suspended its Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) last week over repeated violations - but members of the group said the suspension is a result of discrimination, Campus Reform reported.

The school suspended the student organization for at least a year for repeatedly violating the school's code of conduct, but the group released a statement saying they believe the suspension was racially charged.

"This unprecedented ban and appalling prosecutions are the latest attempt by the university to suppress pro-Palestine speech, and continues the university's disturbing history of enacting injustice," SPJ said in a statement.  "Northeastern's claims of creating a diverse learning environment that encourages the free exchange of ideas and promotes Academic Freedom are impossible to reconcile with the university's decision to suppress our speech and suspend our political group."

The University suspended SPJ after members of the group slipped more than 600 eviction notices under people's doors in residence halls, in an effort to bring attention to similar actions taken by Israeli forces that have removed Palestinians from their homes, Boston Magazine reported.

The student organization has had a history of campus controversies, "from crashing a Holocaust Awareness Week event in 2011 to NU SJP spokesman Max Geller's tendency to wear clothing with Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad symbols on it," Campus Reform reported, citing an article in FrontPage Magazine.

"It's hard enough being a brown person with an Arabic name on campus," Geller said in an article on Mondoweiss, a website which covers Middle East news. "Now imagine what it was like being treated like a criminal for handing out fliers."

Northeastern University released a statement maintaining that the suspension is appropriate, especially considering the repeated problems it has had with the group.

"It is about holding every member of our community to the same standards, and addressing SJP'S non-compliance with longstanding policies to which all student organizations at Northeastern are required to adhere," school officials said.

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