Typical for a small, elite, liberal-arts school, Williams College boasts a great variety of student organizations, including the fiercely pro-terrorist Students for Justice in Palestine and a Society for Conservative Thought. But, for the first time in over a decade, the college council decided to reject a new group’s appeal for official status, as Jonathan Marks writes:
Late last month, the College Council at Williams voted, thirteen to eight, against recognizing a pro-Israel club, Williams Initiative for Israel.
Some of the students who spoke against the club at a council meeting made no bones about their reasons. [The] “club is pro-Israel, which means [it] supports a state that is built on Palestinian land,” said one and made it clear that “believing in the right of Israel to exist” was a red line that no registered student organization should be permitted to cross. Israel is a “fascist state” said another. The “existence of Israel is built on the killing of Palestinians,” said a third.
In short, the open espousal of “pro-Israel” sentiment, even in the limited sense of supporting the existence of Israel, is an affront too great for some students to bear. . . .
As a private institution, Williams College isn’t bound by the First Amendment. But it claims that it’s “committed to being a community in which all ranges of opinion and belief can be expressed and debated, and within which all patterns of behavior permitted by the public law and college regulations can take place.” . . . Colleges and universities cannot declare themselves in favor of freedom of expression and at the same time discriminate among clubs based on the subjective rightness or wrongness of their views.
How much more is this the case with the club rejected by Williams College, which, unlike Students for Justice in Palestine, is not known for shouting down speakers, scorning dialogue, or otherwise setting itself at odds with the missions of most colleges and universities.