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March 15, 2021 4:43 pm

Skidmore College Students Denied Trial Period for ‘Progressive Zionists for Peace’ Club

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Jonsson Tower, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs NY. Photo: Peter Flass / Wikimedia Commons

Two Skidmore College students accused the private university of political bias, after being denied a trial period on Saturday for their “Progressive Zionists for Peace” student club.

Nessa Goldhirsch Brown and another student asked the New York university’s Club Affairs Committee for a trial period after other clubs, including the Skidmore Students for Justice in Palestine club, had been granted one.

“Their reasoning was very hypocritical, confusing, and clear of a political bias against Israel. Zionism is an issue close to our hearts and we are enraged and disappointed that our school is clearly lenient towards some social/political issues but not others,” the club’s co-founder Goldhirsch Brown told The Algemeiner by email.

She said that Progressive Zionists for Peace aims to “create a space for pro-Israel, pro-peace students to organize to act together on behalf of a two-state solution and a more peaceful, secure, and democratic future for both Israelis and Palestinians.” The club also seeks to serve as a bridge for mutual understanding on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to educate Skidmore students on “peaceful Zionism,” and to combat antisemitism.

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In the decision to reject the trial period application, the university’s Club Affairs Committee disclosed that “some members expressed concern that a dialogue focused club with one perspective being conveyed could be troublesome.” At the same time, the committee encouraged the students to reapply at the start of the next semester.

“The committee thinks that the group should try to either gain more diverse perspectives before becoming a club focused on dialogue or reframe the mission to be more advocate focused with a specific stance,” Skidmore College’s Sarah Baker wrote in the emailed decision.

The two club founders did not agree with the decision, and have prompted the Club Affairs Committee to hold another vote on Friday.

On March 8, Skidmore student Hannah Davis told the Times Union that she and two classmates had been prevented from forming a Young Americans for Liberty chapter on campus, after a petition led the Student Government Association to bar the group over “concerns of hate speech and making students on campus feel unsafe.”

Editor’s note: this article has been updated to correct the name of a Skidmore student club.

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