Governor Hochul Calls For a Review of CUNY’s Antisemitic and Discrimination Policies

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New York Governor Kathy Hochul has called for a review of CUNY’s antisemitism and discrimination policies as students across CUNY protest as Israel and Hamas have come to a brief ceasefire in the Middle East this past week.

“The problem didn’t begin with the weeks following October 7th attacks. It’s been growing on a number of campuses and seen most acutely in the City University of New York,” Governor Hochul Said. These words, while intended to be a warning, have left many wondering what the governor believes to be the root of the expanding hate speech problem.

With the promise of increasing surveillance on CUNY campuses, students and professors have both been targeted as “crossing the line into hate speech,” Governor Hochul said.

In a press release following Governor Hochul’s address, the review looks to “bolster antidiscrimination and help protect Jewish students and faculty.”

It will do this by examining the “campus environment” and the “consistency of treatment” of such complaints, while attempting to find an “appropriate balance of free speech rights.” Former Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman will be in charge of the review.

“For Jewish and Muslim New Yorkers alike, the pain is deep, as they fear not just for the safety of their loved ones in harm’s way, but increasingly, for their own safety here at home. Let me be clear. We cannot allow hate and intimidation to become normalized,” the press release said.

Treasurer of the Bukharian Culture Club, Jonathan Ustaev, explains that he did not feel the governor had said enough, and that it, “Felt like a PR statement, attempting to address everyone with no specifics. Just saying general things that sound good to a broader audience. There was no substance in her speech. She said nothing.”

“As discussions for potential policy changes continues, it is vital we first listen to and validate the discrimination faced by different communities, including Muslim students and those advocating for Palestinian rights,” the Muslim Student Association told The Knight News.

Ammiel Alcalay, a Professor of Hebrew and Middle Eastern Studies points out that Governor Hochul’s focus on students and professors as exacerbating antisemitism will only turn into an attack on campus protests as a whole.

Professor Alcalay expresses his fears that, “Under the guise of the current situation in Gaza, the United States will attempt to establish the kinds of curbs on free speech that have been institutionalized in Europe and this would fundamentally change the unique nature of our constitutional rights.”

This review comes at a time where, booming across the Quad, the chant “Free Palestine,” catches the ears of any who has been on campus as students have recently protested the college’s investigation into the Muslim Student Association. Picket signs dance above students’ heads and chalk markings pleading “Ceasefire” paint the paths all across campus. Some of these markings have been altered from “Free Palestine” to “Free Palestine from Hamas” while other markings have been washed away completely.

However, in times like this, the lines between protest and hate speech can be muddied. In a advisory to students who wish to demonstrate their passion, Professor Hillary Miller of the English Department said:

“My advice for students today is to think about what you want to achieve when you write that sign or create that post — and consider all of the different ways to be involved in activism, and decide what feels right to you: you can use social media as a tool, if you want to, or you can organize a protest, but you can also volunteer at an organization involved in the cause, or join a letter-writing campaign, curate performance protests as well as fundraisers, or any other form of action you can dream up.”

Amidst all of this chaos, hidden away in a cubicle at the Rosenthal S. Library, students can find a wall covered with profanities, containing silent preaching or cursing of Israel or Palestine. However, just below this amalgamation of words is a phrase sharply drawn: “Israelis & Palestinians = Human Beings.”

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