Wayne State president criticized for blocking statement on Israeli-Palestinian conflict


Wayne State University in Detroit. - STEVE NEAVLING
  • Steve Neavling
  • Wayne State University in Detroit.

Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson has been accused of censorship for preventing the WSU Student Senate from using the school’s email listerv to disseminate a statement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The statement stems from the senate’s recently approved resolution that condemns the Israeli military’s violence against Palestinian civilians.

“This violent ethnic cleansing has been happening since 1948 and continues to this very day,” the Student Senate’s statement reads. “It is our responsibility to stand against these acts of oppression and occupation, regardless of whether or not we are directly affected by this violence. Injustice anywhere in the world threatens our own freedoms, and we must stand in solidarity with those beaten, killed, and silenced.”

The statement also condemned “all forms of anti-semitism and Islamophobia” and “violence against Jewish, Muslim, Israeli, and Palestinian people in any form.”

The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI), a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, lambasted Wilson for barring students from emailing the statement to students and faculty.

“We are troubled by Wayne State University President Roy Wilson’s censorship of the Student Senate statement condemning recent Israeli violence perpetrated against Palestinian civilians,” CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid said in a statement. “The suppression of students’ free speech rights – even if some disagree with their political views – runs counter to the stated ethos of the university, which offers liberal arts education and purports to have an environment in which ideas are allowed to be rigorously debated.”

In a statement to Metro Times on Wednesday, Wilson said he supports the free speech rights of students and denied censoring the senate.

“We support the right to free speech and encourage our students to express views important to them,” Wilson said. “The Student Senate’s statement was not censored by the university. We support their right to independently speak out, which they did. By making available the use of a university listserv, a university resource, it could be construed that the Student Senate statement represented the views of the university, which it did not. However, we strongly support their free expression.”

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