Office of the President

A space for free speech, not hate speech

Nov. 8, 2023

Dear Brandeis Community,

Monday, the university issued a decision to no longer recognize the Brandeis chapter of the National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). This decision was made because SJP openly supports Hamas, which the United States has designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, and its call for the violent elimination of Israel and the Jewish people.

Many people have asked about this decision and there has been some confusion about what is and is not permitted. We did not enter into this decision lightly. We are a university dedicated to ensuring free speech as outlined in Brandeis’ Principles of Free Speech and Free Expression. These principles state that the university “may restrict expression… that constitutes a genuine threat or harassment.” All students, faculty, and staff are welcome here, and encouraged to participate in the free exchange of ideas. To promote such free exchange, we must not and do not condone hate, the incitement of violence, or threats against or harassment of anyone, be they Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Israeli, Palestinian, or any other religion or ethnicity.

I join those who are distressed by the loss of civilian life in Israel and in Gaza. Our faculty, staff, and student community members who wish to gather to express their support for the rights of Palestinians, or to acknowledge Palestinian deaths during the current Israel-Hamas war, are welcome to do so on our campus. They may do so as individuals, or they may seek to form student organizations through established procedures that comply with Brandeis’ policies.

It is critical that all students, and all of their diverse experiences and viewpoints, be allowed to engage in constructive dialogue and live together as a community, in an environment that is free of intimidation and harassment. A commitment to openness is one of Brandeis’ founding values, but that openness is challenged when speech is used to intimidate and silence others.


Ron Liebowitz