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Ban Hate Speech on Campus at Brooklyn College

This petition had 355 supporters

An open letter to Karen L. Gould.

Dear Karen Gould (President of Brooklyn College),

On April 3rd you sent an email to the campus community after hateful graffiti appeared on campus unequivocally stating, "We are a dynamic campus made stronger by the broad range of backgrounds and experiences of our students, faculty, and staff. While we may not always agree with one another on particular issues, hateful messages towards any ethnic, cultural, religious or racial group have no place on our campus and will not be tolerated."

The clear policy statement was refreshing, and encouraging. It must have been heartening for the campus community to see you take such keen interest in these issues.

However, after Pamela Geller was invited for a talk on April 22nd, hundreds of students expressed their concerns at the hateful nature of her messages but you chose to abdicate all responsibility by stating, "While I do not support or agree with Ms. Geller’s positions, the Constitution’s First Amendment protects even the most controversial speech. As a public institution of higher learning, it is incumbent upon us to uphold the tenets of academic freedom and allow our students and faculty to engage in dialogue and debate, even on the most sensitive of topics."

Karen L. Gould, I amongst others would like a clarification on the policy, are hateful messages against a community only not tolerated when they are in the form of graffiti but are protected by the constitution when they are spewed with vitriol by an invited speaker?

The speaker may not be invited directly by the University but by actively allowing the speaker to speak on campus, the University has tacitly allowed the promotion of hate speech. The constitution of the United States does not mind Brooklyn College to allow anyone to express their opinions.

Pamela Geller has repeatedly tried to incite violence along religious lines. She plans to run ads in MTA buses saying, "Killing Jews is worship that draws us close to Allah.That's His Jihad. What's yours?". She has labelled all Muslims terrorists, pigs and savages. She has even called for all Muslims to be evacuated.

Karen L. Gould, your primary responsibility is towards your students. Allowing a person to incite violence on campus is potentially dangerous. The students at college wrote to you on how they felt threatened by the possibility of a speaker calling for violence against them. You ignored those emails under the pretense of Freedom of Speech.

If you were trying to create a community, one look at how this matter has divided people along religious lines on community boards and Facebook groups show how you failed.

Pamela Geller's talk has put the lives of members of the Brooklyn College community directly at risk. Students at the college have been branded as savages and terrorists. She even threatened to have the heads of some students on a platter during the talk.

A selfie taken by some students has been plastered all over the internet labeling them as members/supporters/sympathizers of ISIS?

Karen L. Gould, will you abdicate your responsibility to protect these students or will you come out with a strong statement from the college in defense of these students?

The lives of these students are directly at risk because of how Pamela Gelller has spun the story. An innocent gesture while taking a selfie has been severely misrepresented.

If we cannot stand up for the rights of these students to take a selfie, I do not feel we can ever create a community. We are destined to be just people who happen to be together.

Surely her words are not worth more than our lives.

Make all of us feel safe to go to our college.

Ban hate speech on campus.

No group should be specifically targeted or threatened on campus.

It is time for you to protect our freedom to live.

Say no to hate speech ("Hate speech can be defined as speech directed at a historically oppressed religious or racial minority with the intent to insult and demean.") on campus.
Thank You,

Shehzad Ghias

A concerned student of Brooklyn College.


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