Elise Gregg | Editor-in-Chief
Students for Justice in Palestine at FIU organized a walkout on Oct. 25 to take place on the Graham Center Lawns to demonstrate their support for Palestine, asking universities to “divest from Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people”.
The day before, Chancellor Ray Rodrigues of the Florida State University System issued a memo ordering the deactivation of the two student chapters in Florida that exist under the National Students for Justice in Palestine.
“It is a felony under Florida law to ‘knowingly provide material support . . . to a designated foreign terrorist organization,'” reads the memo. “Here, National SJP has affirmatively identified it is part of the Operation Al-Aqsa Flood—a terrorist led attack.”
Rodrigues wrote that in consultation with Governor Ron DeSantis, the two existing student chapters must be deactivated.
“These two student chapters may form another organization that complies with Florida state statutes and university policies. The two institutions should grant these two chapters a waiver for the
fall deadlines, should reapplication take place.”
The memo didn’t specify which two universities have official, registered chapters of SJP, but according to FIU police, the walkout hosted by SJP-FIU from 12:30 to 1:30 on Oct. 25 remains unaffected by the memo.
“FIU does not have SJP as a registered student group,” FIUPD Chief Casas wrote in text communications with PantherNOW. “There is an individual who reserved space on the GC lawns today.”
Casas emphasized FIU’s commitment to free speech both for demonstrators and any counter-protests.
“As long as whoever participates there complies with state law and university policy, they’re within their rights to be there,” Casas wrote.
For some members of SJP-FIU, free speech is exactly the issue with the memo.
“We’re working with organizations that support human rights and the First Amendment rights and freedom of speech for our students,” said biological sciences major Tara Mahmoud, who was helping set up for the rally.
“We’re going to work to fight back because that is completely disrespectful to students who have a freedom of speech, regardless of what you stand for.”
This is a breaking story and will be updated.