Defend Free Speech at Williams College

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Williams College, a small liberal arts school in Massachusetts, presents itself as a diverse, pluralistic community. The idyllic campus, nestled in the Berkshire mountains, endeavors to be a safe space where all its students can freely express themselves without fear of bullying, harassment, or retribution. This commitment to diversity and free speech is reflected by more than 160 registered student organizations, ranging from “Anything but Straight in Athletics” to “Students of Caribbean Ancestry” to the “Williams Beekeeping Club”.

There is one form of speech, however, that is so vile and dangerous that the powers that be at Williams have decided it must be banished from campus: support for Israel. The College Council recently voted to reject an application from the Williams Initiative for Israel to register as a student organization. This is the first time in at least a decade that any club met the school’s requirements but was not allowed to form.

The College Council’s decision was clearly based on politics and hateful rhetoric. Council members called Israel an “apartheid” and “genocidal” state and claimed that support for Israel’s right to exist was tantamount to violence against Palestinians.

Williams College should be ashamed of itself. Why should pro-Israel and Jewish students not have the same rights to free speech and assembly as those who hate Israel and want to destroy the Jewish State? There is already an active chapter of the anti-Israel Students for Justice in Palestine.

Sign this petition to urge President Maud Mandel to overrule the College Council’s biased decision and show that Williams College’s commitment to diversity and free expression applies to all students.