LTTE: What the administration has not done yet

The administration of Case Western Reserve University continues to fail CWRU’s student body and the faculty. They have not been adequately transparent and responsive in their discussions and announcements about the suspension of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The administration owes the student body and the faculty this level of accountability: to publicly, in print, clarify the competing narratives and to rectify any inaccuracies. Just as they expected SJP to come to meet with the Office of Student Conduct, the student body and the faculty have a moral right for the administration of CWRU to meet the concerns raised with a transparent and clear public statement.

Here are the main things that have not been clarified:

  1. The possibility that the administration was using SJP to get at members who acted outside the authorization of the club, i.e., not as members in that instance. If the administration did this, then they are committing a wrong: using a club to get at people for whom, in that instance, the club simply is not responsible.
  2. The possibility that the administration failed to communicate with SJP proactively and in a timely fashion, leading into the suspension once SJP had counsel. There are competing narratives around this point. The administration should clarify them and respond to the narrative in The Observer’s main investigative journalism of the issue.
  3. The reason for the interim suspension of SJP was that the group failed to meet with the Office of Student Conduct. However, if 1 and 2 were true, then SJP’s reticence and confusion at meeting would be understandable. Perhaps this is behind the charge that the administration failed to exercise a just process. Was SJP in effect set up to be intimidated?

These three matters must be clarified. An administration that suspends a student club, intimidating them for ulterior purposes (1), and does not communicate professionally with them (2), is acting arbitrarily. This is a violation of the moral rights of students to have a safe and professional space to learn through self-organizing their clubs.

Likewise, an administration that acts in such an arbitrary manner undermines the faculty’s mission to provide the best educational environment that we can to students.

Moreover, the administration fails the basic norms of the Faculty Handbook—to the extent that administrators are also faculty—to treat everyone with dignity and consideration.

Finally, the administration behaves imprudently in not being responsive and accountable in a public and clearly seen manner that is recorded in print. They allow competing narratives to take root and the student body to become cynical. This hurts the entire school down to its alumni connections in the future. It could even conceivably spin out to affect this university’s rankings or accreditation in some instances.

Jeremy Bendik-Keymer

Professor of Philosophy

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