Over the last 6 months, the Young Democratic Socialists of America at Georgia Tech (YDSA GT) has been targeted by an unlawful campaign of intimidation and political repression by Georgia Tech’s administration in retaliation for hosting Jewish and Palestinian speakers who criticized Israel’s unlawful military occupation of Palestine. The administration’s campaign centers around a politically motivated disciplinary investigation, the very existence of which directly violates school policy and the U.S. Constitution.
“This politically motivated investigation aims to completely shut down any conversation around Israeli occupation being had on campus. To accuse YDSA of being discriminatory for being a place where anti-occupation Jews, like myself, can actually begin to grapple with the occupation of Palestinian lands is completely inappropriate,” said Ariella, a Jewish YDSA Member
The Office of Student Integrity has played the role of policing certain political views by sanctioning YDSA GT for exercising its constitutional rights to freedom of speech and assembly and by demanding unreasonable punishments that will exhaust the organization’s limited resources and force YDSA GT to betray its own deeply held political values. These sanctions would force YDSA GT to hold multiple OSI-approved events with organizations “with differing viewpoints,” and place YDSA GT on disciplinary probation.
“I have long felt uncomfortable voicing my opinions in institutional Jewish spaces, as my views run counter to the orthodoxy those institutions espouse. YDSA provided one of the first spaces where I ever felt comfortable discussing my anti-occupation views and reckoning with the way I was taught to view Israel,” said Eli, a Jewish YDSA Member and Former Treasurer of Hillel’s Student Executive Board
It is clear that Georgia Tech is disregarding its students’ First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble and hold expressive events. This process has been designed to intimidate YDSA GT’s all-student membership, exhaust YDSA GT’s all-volunteer resources, and silence constitutionally protected political speech. The harassment of students for speaking in defense of Palestinian human rights is a nationwide trend, and it is alarming to see it proceeding this far in the Georgia Tech community.
“In our work throughout Georgia and across the US South, we notice a trend of academic institutions failing to uphold basic constitutional rights when support for Palestine is uplifted. We urge the administration at Georgia Tech to support students’ rights to organize,” said Stephanie Guilloud, Co-Director at Project South, a civil and human rights organization based in Atlanta
DSA calls on Georgia Tech Dean of Students John Stein to rescind the Institute’s disciplinary actions, which violate YDSA GT’s rights to free speech, assembly and due process, and calls on Georgia Tech to issue a public apology. Regardless of your ideology, if you support the rights of students to organize around their beliefs, please sign the attached petition and share this with anyone you know. DSA also urges you to call Dean Stein’s office at 404-894-2565 with the attached message of support, or simply to donate to YDSA GT’s defense.
Here is how to help:
- Sign on to YDSA GT’s petition to reject Georgia Tech’s political censorship!
- Share this message online, with friends, family, journalists, lawyers, and other organizations who may be willing to help.
- Donate to YDSA GT’s defense so that they may have the time and resources to combat these charges and seek legal aid.
- Call Dean Stein’s office at 404-894-2565, with the attached message of support
Script to Call Dean Stein’s Office (404-894-2565)
Hello, I am calling in support of Young Democratic Socialists of America at Georgia Tech. I find the actions taken against YDSA because of their political views to be very troubling. It’s clear that Georgia Tech has botched the disciplinary process and is retaliating against YDSA for exercising their constitutional right to freedom of speech and assembly. The sanctions levied against YDSA will compromise their organization’s ability to organize around their stated beliefs and goals. This is a deep blow against the values that Georgia Tech claims to uphold.
Dean Stein should rescind the Institute’s disciplinary actions, which violate YDSA GT’s rights to free speech, assembly and due process, and Georgia Tech should issue a public apology. Thank you for your time.