Ensure Daniel Mael's Safety and Free Speech Rights
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The Crisis at Brandeis University – Brandeis President Fred Lawrence Must Immediately End His Silence
We, the undersigned, are alarmed by the on-going crisis at Brandeis University, in which students and their right to free speech are under attack. The university administration has been shamefully unresponsive and must immediately take corrective action.
On December 20th, Brandeis student journalist Daniel Mael reported on inflammatory statements made by a Brandeis student leader on Twitter. Referring to the two NYPD policemen, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were recently assassinated, she wrote, “I have no sympathy for the nypd officers who were murdered today,” and “lmao [laughing my a—off] i just really dont have sympathy for the cops who were shot. i hate this racist f---ing country.” Most alarmingly, the student leader’s online messages included calls for violence in comments like, “burn this country down,” and, “i need to get my gun license. asap.”
Commenters, responding to Mael’s article, posted disparagements, curses and threats to the student who had insulted the dead policemen. Daniel Mael immediately and in no uncertain terms publicly condemned these reactions.
Soon however, Mael himself became the target of personal, sometimes violent threats to his safety and well-being made by his fellow students on the Brandeis campus and others. Instead of censuring the hatred expressed toward innocent murder victims, an array of student groups, including several students in student leadership positions at the university, launched a campaign of vilification and intimidation against Mael, demanding that the Brandeis administration punish him for doing nothing more than truthfully reporting hateful comments made in a public forum by a student in a position of authority at the university.
University officials have a legal and moral obligation to protect their students. Since the crisis began on December 20th, University President, Fred Lawrence, has remained silent. This silence encourages the violent incitement against Daniel Mael, who did nothing wrong. At the same time, it implies official tolerance for community members using derogatory language to intimidate a student journalist -- behavior that may be in violation of the school’s own code of conduct.
Brandeis officials must take immediate steps to ensure that no harm will come to any student. The climate of intimidation and hostility to free speech on the Brandeis campus must end immediately.
We call on Brandeis Trustees and Brandeis President Fred Lawrence to take the following steps:
- Declare that any Brandeis student who threatens or intimidates another student will be held accountable.
- Condemn any Brandeis student or faculty member who expresses support for the murder of policemen, or any human being, for that matter. Students have the right to their opinions; the University has the duty to judge some opinions as beneath contempt.
What Brandeis needs most now is courageous and determined leadership to steer its community through this crisis. We hope that President Fred Lawrence has the wisdom and ability to display it.
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