An Open Letter Deploring Hunter College’s Tolerance for Palestinian Incitement
My name is Inna Vernikov, and I am an alumna of CUNY Baruch College and a New York City attorney. As a former CUNY student, I am appalled by the events that took place on November 12 on the campus grounds of CUNY’s Hunter College. I am writing to you today in hopes that you will join me in my plight to hold Hunter College and City University of New York accountable for these events.
On November 12, 2015, a student protest titled “Million Student March,” was held throughout campuses of the City University of New York, calling for tuition-free education and cancellation of all student debt, amongst other demands.
At around 5:30 p.m., a large crowd of protesters gathered on the campus of Hunter College for the “Million Student March.” In a video captured by Fuel For Truth’s founder Joe Richards, members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) are heard repeatedly yelling “F–k Zionists,” “Zionists out of Cuny,” and calling for Intifada — an armed uprising of Palestinians using terrorism and violence. The video ends with SJP students yelling, “There is only one solution, Intifada Revolution.”
Hunter College cannot allow this to stand.
The First Amendment gives us the right to speak freely, redress the government, and peacefully assemble. The First Amendment does not, however, allow for government funded institutions to create a forum for the incitement to imminent, lawless actions.
When Hunter College, a government-funded institution, allowed its students to gather under the guise of a “Million Student March” to preach Intifada and rally for “Zionists to get out of CUNY,” Hunter created a hostile and unsafe environment for its Jewish students. Moreover, by opening such a forum, Hunter engaged in aiding and abetting terrorist agenda, and its administration must be held accountable.
Furthermore, the City University of New York has a comprehensive non-discrimination policy available to the public. That policy lists discrimination and harassment as prohibited conduct on campus. CUNY defines discrimination as “treating an individual differently or less favorably because of his or her protected characteristics — such as race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin.” Harassment is defined as “a form of discrimination that consists of unwelcome conduct based on a protected characteristic….or creating an intimidating, hostile or abusive work or academic environment.”
Hunter administration is responsible for allowing Students For Justice In Palestine to bully and harass Jewish students on their campus.
In light of Hunter’s violations, I ask that you join me in demanding full accountability for last night’s events. I ask that Hunter and CUNY not only condemn the actions of SJP, but that it impose severe consequences on such student activities and that it publicly release a statement committing itself to monitor and prevent any future discriminatory events that bully and harass Jewish students on campus. A statement condemning antisemitic comments and simply stating that “there is no place for harassment and bigotry on campus” is not sufficient.
Inna Vernikov is the founding attorney at The Law Offices Of Inna Vernikov, PLLC and a pro-Israel activist.