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By Giles Howard, guest columnist from the University of Pittsburgh
An organization at the University of Pittsburgh, receiving thousands of dollars in funding from the school, supports a fringe anarchist group with the goal of disrupting educational activities at next week’s G-20 Summit.
Students for Justice in Palestine endorsed a proclamation issued by the Pittsburgh G-20 Resistance Project calling on people to “take to the streets of Pittsburgh to disrupt the summit” and on students to “disrupt schools” in protest against the G-20’s policies. The Resistance Project is planning an unpermitted march in Pittsburgh on Sept. 24 that, according to plans detailed on its Web site, involve unspecified “direct actions” — a term that has, at past international conferences in Seattle and London, served as code for violently disruptive protests and vandalism.
The Resistance Project has even posted a list of targets for protests, including Trader Joe’s, the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute and the Oakland Planning and Development Corporation. The Resistance Project’s plans constitute a clear threat against educational institutions and their ability to function free from the interference of extremists.
It’s unconscionable that a university-certified organization, which received thousands of dollars in funding last year, would promote and endorse such plans.
Students for Justice in Palestine President Jonas Moffat said that his group voted unanimously to endorse the proclamation. The group received $5,000 from the university last year, and Moffat said it’s expecting to receive even more money this year.
Students for Justice in Palestine’s actions represent a profound lack of respect for the educational process and have no place at an educational institution.
Moreover, calling on students to “disrupt schools” could be a violation of Pitt’s “Guidelines for Student Organization Certification” that says students must “refrain from advocating, inciting or participating in any material interference or physical disruption of the university.”
The guidelines also say that student organizations must “conduct all activities in a manner consistent with the educational mission of the University.” It is clear that calling for the disruption of schools is not in keeping with this mission.
Students for Justice in Palestine have revealed that their values and goals are not in keeping with the educational mission of this university or the interests of its student body.
Such a group shouldn’t be affiliated with or supported by the publicly funded university, its administration or student body. The university should sever all ties immediately.
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