You are on page 1of 37


FREDERICK P. SCHAFFER General Counsel and Senior Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs The City University of New York


INTRODUCTION On February 7, 2013 a forum was held at Brooklyn College on the subject of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against the State of Israel. The forum was organized and sponsored by the Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a recognized student club. It was co-sponsored by a number of other organizations and entities, including the Brooklyn College Political Science Department. The forum included two speakers, Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti. Dr. Butler is a philosopher who holds appointments as professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. Mr. Barghouti is one of the founders of the BDS movement and of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel; he speaks widely on college campuses and elsewhere. The forum was preceded by considerable controversy about whether Brooklyn College should have permitted it to take place and whether it was appropriate for the Political Science Department to co-sponsor the event. Following the forum, a new controversy arose when questions were raised in the press as to whether Jewish students had been granted equal access to and participation in the event and whether four Jewish students had been wrongly removed. On February 11, 2013, CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein issued a statement in which he said that at the request of Brooklyn College President Karen Gould, he had asked Frederick P. Schaffer, the General Counsel and Senior Vice Chancellor for Legal Affairs, to conduct an investigation into the latter controversy with the assistance of an outside law firm. The firm of Bryan Cave LLP was selected for this purpose. The investigation has spanned two months and has involved interviews with more than 40 witnesses, including Brooklyn College students, faculty and staff (including both

administrators and public safety officers), members of the press and CUNY administrators. Some persons were interviewed more than once. Because of the large number of witnesses, we could not interview every person who might have some relevant information. However, we endeavored to interview all of the principal participants and everyone whom any of the principal participants suggested we talk to. In addition, we have reviewed numerous documents, emails and notes of meetings relating to the planning of the forum and its aftermath, all the press accounts relating to the forum, and one videotape and three audiotapes of the forum, two of which were made in close proximity to the students who were removed. We believe that nearly all of the persons we interviewed were forthright and tried sincerely to provide us with their best recollection of the events about which we inquired. Not surprisingly, different people have differing perceptions and memories of the same events. Nevertheless, we are satisfied that we have pieced together the facts surrounding the forum as completely and as accurately as is possible. Even when the facts are established, there is often room for different inferences and interpretations. We have therefore strived to be clear what evidence led to our conclusions and what evidence there is for different conclusions. In the course of our investigation, we identified four distinct issues. They are: 1. The Reservations and Admissions Process. How was the process of making reservations and admitting persons to the forum handled? Is there evidence of discrimination on the basis of religion or political viewpoint? 2. The Handling of the Press. What rules were established and implemented regarding press coverage? Is there evidence of discrimination on the basis of religion or political viewpoint? 3. The Removal of Four Students. What were the circumstances surrounding the removal of Yvonne Juris, Melanie Goldberg, Ari Ziegler and Michael Ziegler from the forum? Did those circumstances justify that removal? Is there evidence of discrimination on the basis of religion or political viewpoint? 4. The Q&A Period. Is there evidence that the Q&A period was ended for discriminatory reasons? 2

After discussing the facts and setting forth our conclusions on each of these issues, we will offer some recommendations as to how events like the BDS forum can be better handled in the future at Brooklyn College and all CUNY campuses. I. THE RESERVATIONS AND ADMISSIONS PROCESS

A. The Origins of the Event In December, 2012, the leaders of SJP clubs at various colleges decided to hold an event at Brooklyn College at which Omar Barghouti would speak about the BDS movement. The principal organizers of the event were Sundus Seif, a student at Brooklyn College and the President of the Colleges SJP club, and Carlos Guzman, who had been a student at Hunter College since 2010 and vice president of that colleges SJP club during the fall 2012 semester and continued to act for the club even though he was not registered as a student there for the spring 2013 semester. Seif completed an event form, and in mid-January, 2013 discussed the event with Christina Haney, the Assistant Director of Student Activities at Brooklyn College and the Colleges liaison to the club. Seif wanted to have the event on February 7th. Haney told Seif that there was no available room at the Student Center on that date, and they discussed other possible campus venues for the event, one of which was the Woody Tanger Auditorium. Haney suggested that the organizers have an RSVP list so that they would know how many people planned to attend. Subsequently, SJP added Dr. Butler as a speaker and announced the event on its website and its Facebook page. The program was described as a lecture on the importance of the BDS movement in helping to end Israeli apartheid and illegal occupation of Palestine. The listings and flyers announced that the event was free and open to the public.

B. The Electronic Sign-Up Process Initially, SJP used its Facebook page to publicize the upcoming event and to take RSVPs by providing a place where those who wished to attend could signify that by a click. In addition, the announcement indicated that only persons who were not connected with Brooklyn College should respond because Seif figured that Brooklyn College students and faculty could just show up with an ID. Guzman thought that using Facebook would result in an unreliable indication of the number of prospective attendees because the simplicity of clicking meant that many who indicated that they would attend would not show up. Accordingly, about two and a half weeks before the event, Guzman changed the approach. He placed a link on the Facebook page to an account at that Guzman had created for the event. Guzman believed that people who registered on were more likely to attend an event because they had to take the time to register, not simply click. However, the use of created problems of its own. That system permitted a registrant to indicate that he or she would bring a guest or guests without identifying them by name. Moreover, the SignUpGenius system did not enable the account manager to press a button to generate an attendance list, nor did it automatically send a confirmation to a registrant. Rather, it sent an email to the account manager reporting that a named individual signed up for the event, and the account manager then had to create a list and send a confirmation to each registrant. As she received those emails from SignUpGenius, Seif transferred the names to a list she created herself on her computer and sent her own confirmation emails to registrants (except that she did not send confirmations to persons who were SJP members or who had Brooklyn College email addresses). Seif told us that although she tried to be careful, because she had to perform these tasks manually, she missed a couple including at

least one acquaintance, Sofia Ahsanuddin, who submitted a statement that she had been omitted from the RSVP list. So were Melanie Goldberg (who received a confirmation but was not included on the list), and Ari Ziegler and Igor Kozlov (who registered on line but did not receive a confirmation and were not originally on the list). In addition, according to Ameera Hasan and Hana Johami, two members of the SJP club who were checking people in at the table on the sixth floor the night of the event, approximately ten other persons told them that they had received confirmations but found that they were not on the list. When Guzman created the SignUpGenius account, he believed that there would be one list for all attendees whether they were students, other members of the college community or the general public, without distinguishing among the groups. As set forth below, the College administration eventually required that the list distinguish among Brooklyn College students and non-students. This made the use of the SignUpGenius account even more unworkable because the only way to tell if a registrant was a Brooklyn College student was if the registrant used the students Brooklyn College email address when signing up. Since not all students used their college address when registering, the emails were not reliable indicators of who was a student. When the organizers realized that this system would not enable them to create a reliable list that distinguished between Brooklyn College students and non-students, the account was closed. C. Meetings of the College Administration During the ensuing three weeks, as the event generated controversy and interest in it mounted and other venues became available, the colleges administrators changed the location from the Tanger Auditorium to the Penthouse at the Student Center, which could accommodate

160 people, and then to the Gold Room at the Student Center, which holds more than 200 people, where the event was held. As various college administrators learned about the event, they concluded that it could be controversial and would require planning and monitoring on their part, and several meetings ensued. Not every administrator attended all of the meetings, but the key participants were Joseph Giovannelli, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration, Milga Morales, Vice President for Student Affairs, Donald Wenz, the Director of Campus Security, Ursula Chase, Assistant Director of Campus Security, Nicole Haas, Assistant to President Karen Gould, Mitzu Adams, Director of The Student Center and Jeremy Thompson, Executive Director of Marketing, Communications and Public Relations. The meetings were generally followed by conversations or emails between Haney and Seif regarding the questions raised and the decisions made. At a meeting on January 22nd, there was discussion of the need for an RSVP list so that the organizers and the administrators would know how many people planned to attend. At a meeting on January 30th, it was decided to move the event from Tanger Auditorium to the Penthouse at the Student Center, where it would be easier to provide security and which had a capacity of 160 people. The need for an RSVP list was again discussed, and it was recommended that 100 seats be allocated to Brooklyn College students and faculty. The participants also decided that SJP had to remove the open invitation to the public at large from the web and to alert the public that there was going to be an RSVP list. On February 4th there was another meeting at which it was decided to move the event from the Penthouse to the Gold room, which had a capacity of 220 seats. The participants also discussed that SJP had to have a single master list of those who had responded and therefore would be admitted into the event and that the list had to distinguish between Brooklyn College

students and other attendees. After the end of the meeting among College administrators, Seif and Guzman joined them. Seif and Guzman were told that only people who were on a RSVP list could be admitted to the event. When it became apparent that the RSVP list they were in the process of constructing did not separate out Brooklyn College students, the administrators suggested to Seif and Guzman that SJP should provide students with the opportunity to sign up at a table on the campus before the event and use the sign-up sheets in creating a final RSVP list. Seif agreed to set up a table on February 6th and 7th, although as it turned out, one day was sufficient. Through Facebook and emails, she announced that Brooklyn College students should sign up at the tables. Morales, Adams and Haney collaborated on drafting an email to Seif that was sent that evening which confirmed that in light of the increased interest in the event, the Gold room with a capacity of 220 would be used instead of the Penthouse, but that attendance could not go over that limit. The email continued that at the entrances there would be one list for Brooklyn College attendees and another list for outside guests who must have an ID to get in. It added that Those not on the list will not be allowed to enter. The following day, Seif sent an email to Haney that attached the RSVP list she had created so far by transferring names by hand from the SignUpGenius account to a document on her computer. The names of Goldberg and Ari Ziegler were not on that list.1 D. The Sign-Up Table The day before the event, SJP had a sign-up table outside of Whitehead Hall. The table was available starting at about 10 am, but Seif did not arrive until around 11 am. Prior to arriving, she told Nameh Ghanam to allow people to sign up on loose leaf sheets of paper. When

The list also included a wait list that was created by hand by Hana Johami, another student member of the SJP club at Brooklyn College, who transferred the names from a wait list email folder that Seif had created when she thought there were a sufficient number of names on the RSVP list to fill the room to capacity.

Seif arrived, approximately 20 names were on the loose leaf sheets. She set them aside and had new registrants sign up on pre-printed sheets of paper with numbered lines; each sheet started with the number 1. After the number of names on the pre-printed sheets reached about 100, Seif started what she deemed to be a wait list on the same pre-printed sheets of paper. Although from that point on Seif and the other person at the table tried to tell those signing up that they were on the wait list, not all of the registrants necessarily realized that they were signing a wait list rather than the list of those who would definitely be admitted to the event. One of the students who signed up at the table was Melanie Goldberg. She is active in Hillel and has a part-time job doing pro-Israel advocacy work on campus. In that connection she has attended pro-Palestinian events in order to ask hard questions.2 Goldberg first registered for the BDS event electronically and received a confirmation, but she thought that the Facebook statements about signing up for the event were not clear, so she also signed up at the table. She recalled that she was number 69 on the sheet on which she signed up. She also recalls that Seif told her that she might have trouble getting in.3 Guzman arrived at the table at about noon to hand out flyers, and Seif and two other females were there. He heard Goldberg say that she had

In the autumn of 2012, SJP had held an event at which a movie entitled The People And The Olive was shown, followed by a panel discussion. Seif was the moderator and Guzman attended the event. Goldberg also attended and spoke during the question and answer period after the movie. According to Goldberg, she did not disrupt the event; she merely asked appropriate questions during the time set aside for questions. According to Guzman and Seif, Goldman interrupted the panelists and also used the question period to ask about matters that were completely irrelevant and unrelated to the movie, such as the firing of rockets into Israel by Hamas. According to Goldberg, Guzman attempted to engage her in a discussion after the event, but she told him that they had different points of view, would not agree, and that she was tired and wanted to go home. As a result of that event, Seif told us she knew Goldberg by sight but not by name; Guzman told us that he knew her name as well; and Johami, told us she knew Goldberg by sight and by name because Goldberg introduced herself when she began asking questions at the event.

Seifs comment supports two different inferences. One is that Seif was merely alerting Goldberg to something Goldberg did not know, namely, that she was on the wait list and therefore might have a problem in getting into the event. Another is that Seif was suggesting that because of Goldbergs previous actions at the 2012 program, Goldberg might have trouble getting admitted to this event.

registered on line and had received a confirmation, but that she would sign up again, which she did. Igor Kozlov also signed up at the table. He had registered for the event via Facebook. Subsequently, there was an announcement on Facebook to the effect that people needed to RSVP via a link. He tried to register but did not get a confirmation. Someone told him that if he had not received a confirmation he would need to sign up in person to register. Accordingly, Kozlov went to the sign-up table and told the people there that he had responded, and they told him to sign the sheet, which he did. They also told him that he was on the wait list and that he might not get in. Michael Fuzaylov was another student who signed up on February 6th at the table. His was name number 62 on the sheet he signed, and the female at the table told him that the cut-off had been at number 60. She told him that he might or might not get in, but if he put his email address on the list, he would receive an email with more information. He did so, and that night he received an email advising him that he was on the wait list. Seif gave the original sheets of paper to Sarah Aly to type. Ali created a list of the first group of approximately 120 who had signed up and then discarded the original sheets. In doing so, she inadvertently discarded the wait list as well without having typed it up. Accordingly, the names of students who signed up on the wait list (including Goldberg) were not transferred to the typewritten list, and the original sheets were not available for our review. Seif transferred the names of the Brooklyn College students on Alys typewritten list to the document she had on her computer. The resulting list contained places for approximately 230 attendees and 50 people on the waiting list. The attendees included roughly 110 persons who had registered on line, 82 Brooklyn College students who had signed up at the table, 21 student volunteers and 16 of the

people who had emailed attendance requests directly to SJP; Seif added the last group in the order in which they were received. At 1:53 a.m. she emailed that list to Haney. E. The Intervention by Hillel Nadya Drukker is the Director of the Brooklyn College Hillel. Typically, she does not encourage Jewish students to attend pro-Palestinian events. However, she does like to have a few poised and articulate Jewish students attend so that these students can prepare and ask challenging questions and also so that they can report to her what was said at the event. These students are instructed not to be disruptive and to hand out flyers only after the event. She asked Goldberg to fill this role at the BDS event. Goldberg told us that us because she had experience as an advocate for Israel and was majoring in journalism, she knew not to be disruptive or to pass out flyers during such an event. Drukker told us that prior to the event, SJPs website and Facebook notices were confusing. There were notices to the effect that RSVPs that had been made on-line were not valid, and that prospective attendees had to re-register in person. Kozlov told Drukker he had registered on-line, but when he signed up at the table, he was placed on the wait list and was told that he might not get in. Fuzaylov also told Drukker he was on the wait list. Drukker found this state of affairs very disturbing. As a result, Drukker called Morales, described the problems with the registration process, and asked if she could give her the names of a few students whom Drukker wanted to get into the event. Morales said that she would take care of it. The morning of the event, Goldberg went to the Hillel building. Drukker asked Goldberg if she knew for certain that she would be admitted to the event, Goldman replied that she had registered. Drukker told Goldberg that Morales said she would add a few students of Drukkers choosing to the list so they could attend the event. Goldberg responded that if Drukker wanted to


add her name that was fine. From that conversation, Goldberg believed that Drukker had requested Morales to add her name to the list. A friend suggested to Ari Ziegler, who had registered on line but had not received a confirmation, that he speak with Drukker, which he did. Drukker told him that she could get five people into the event. Ari Ziegler told us that Drukker put his name and the name of his brother Michael on her list to be given to Morales. Michael Ziegler told us that on the morning of the event, he asked his brother to ask Drukker to add his name to the list. Later that day Michael Ziegler saw Drukker who told him that she had asked Morales to put his name on the list and that getting into the event should not be a problem. Drukker told us that she asked Morales to add to the attendance list her own name and the names of five students: Michael Ziegler, Ari Ziegler, Igor Kozlov, Michael Fuzaylov and Ileana Ryvlin. She stated that she also gave Goldbergs name to Morales but told Morales that Goldberg had registered and might not need help. However, the contemporaneous notes of Morales, taken during her telephone conversation with Drukker, show the names of Michael Fuzaylov, Igor Kozlov, Ileana Ryvlin, Ari Ziegler and Jonathan Edelstein. Those are the students names that in fact were added to the list. Thus, it would appear that contrary to Drukkers recollection, she did not ask Morales to add Michael Zieglers name and that Morales had not interpreted Drukkers request to include Goldberg. F. The Final Master List On the morning of February 7th, Morales called Mitzu Adams and asked her to add the names of the five students and Drukker to the list. Adams had the list that Seif had sent to Haney in the early hours of the morning. She added those six names at the end of the segment of the list containing the names of Brooklyn College students and faculty. Adams also alphabetized part of


the list and added numbers next to the names on the list. At a meeting later that morning in the Student Center, Morales stamped and signed the final master list, made copies and gave them to Seif. According to Seif, Morales did not say that she had added names to the list Seif had emailed to Haney, and Seif was not aware of it until that evening. The final master list is a cumbersome affair with several subsections and most of the names not in alphabetical order. The first subsection is titled RSVP Main List. The first 105 numbered names typed on this list are in alphabetical order; names 106 through 130 are not alphabetized. The next section is titled Brooklyn College List. Below that heading are 82 typed names that are not in alphabetical order, followed by a space and then numbers 83 through 88 identifying Drukker and the five students Morales had added to the list but not in alphabetical order. The next caption is Haymarket Books, below which is one name. Then there is a caption Waiting RSVP List followed by 53 typed but not alphabetized names. The final caption is Volunteers below which are 21 names that are not in alphabetical order. Two of the names that Morales had added to the list at Drukkers request also appear elsewhere on the list - Edelstein, whose name is number 17 on the wait list section, and Fuzaylov, who had been informed by email that he was on the wait list, but whose name appears as number 65 in the Brooklyn College section of the attendee list. The failure to alphabetize within each subsection all of the names made checking the list difficult, especially outside the building on what was a cold February night. For example, Kozlov, Fuzaylov and Edelstein went to the program together. The female checking names let Fuzaylov and Edelstein pass, but said that she could not find Kozlovs name. He said that he had talked with Morales and that his name should be on the list. She checked again, found his name


and admitted him. As described below, Ari Ziegler was also not initially admitted because of a difficulty in finding his name on the list. In sum, the final master list obviously reflects the confusion in its creation. G. Getting into The Event Attendees had to pass through two checkpoints successfully to gain admission to the program: names were checked against the master list as people waited in the lines outside of the east entrance into the Student Center, where those admitted received a green wrist band and passed through a metal detector; names were again checked against the master list when the attendees got to the sixth floor at a table in the lobby outside of the Gold Room. Approximately 20 students were given green wrist bands and allowed into the Student Center but were told to go back downstairs when Hasan or Johami, the SJP students who were at the check-in table on the sixth floor, determined that their names were not on the list. These included three Brooklyn College student government leaders who were eventually allowed in through the intervention of Haney. They also included a number of other persons who were eventually allowed in by Wenz after all the persons on the wait list were admitted and it turned out there were still empty seats in the room. And it included three of the four students who were later removed. Yvonne Juris is a Brooklyn College student who had not registered for the event. She had planned to meet friends at the line, but her friends were late, so she got on line by herself. Although her name was not on the master list, she received a green wrist band and passed through the ground floor check-in without any problem. Goldman, and Ari and Michael Ziegler got on the RSVP line shortly before 6 pm. The SJP personnel at the entrance could not find any of their names on the RSVP list. They told the students checking the lists to call Morales because they were supposed to be on the list. In


addition, Ari Ziegler used a smart phone and pulled up Goldmans confirmation, which he showed to the SJP students. Guzman was there and said, in substance, if your name is not on the list, you are not allowed in. After an intervention by either Morales or Wenz (accounts differ), Ari Zieglers name was found on the list, and he was told he could go in. According to one account, Goldberg contacted Drukker and told her that they were having difficulty getting in, and Drukker said that she would contact Morales. According to another, the students asked Morales to call Drukker, and she did so. In any event, after speaking with Drukker, either Morales or Wenz walked Goldberg and Michael Ziegler through the downstairs entrance and security. They were given green wrist bands and were allowed up to the sixth floor lobby outside of the Gold Room where there was another checkpoint at a table. When they arrived there, the SJP students at the check-in table said that their names were not on the master list. Juris was in the same situation. Goldman and Ziegler told the SJP students that Morales had let them in. However, a public safety officer told them that if their name was not on the list, they could not go in. Haney, who was at the table, said that she would take them downstairs. The public safety officer removed their wrist bands, and, together with Haney, escorted them back to the first floor. Goldberg and Michael Ziegler told Haney that Morales had let them in, so Haney asked them to wait while she went to look for Morales. When Morales arrived, she and Wenz conversed about whether to allow the three students back upstairs. It turned out that 260 seats had been set up in the room (rather than 220); the room was not full; and people were being admitted from the waiting line outside. They decided to allow Juris, Goldberg and Michael Ziegler to go back to the sixth floor. Morales and Haney escorted them and told the young


women at the check-in table to write their names on the master list and let them in. When they entered the room, Dr. Butler already had started to speak. H. Conclusions The evidence does not support a finding that religious or political discrimination infected the admission process. The mechanisms employed in creating the RSVP list were cumbersome and error-prone, and the repeated changes in the registration procedure led to confusion. Although several Jewish students who registered on line were omitted from the list that was manually generated by SJP, so was at least one student with an Islamic name, and other Jewish names appeared on the list even before students signed up at the table on February 6th. Furthermore, Goldberg was the only student whose political views were known to anyone at SJP as a result of a prior event; Seif denies learning her name on that occasion; and there is no evidence to the contrary. The loss of the original signup sheets from the February 6th tabling was certainly careless, but again there is no evidence on which to base an inference of discriminatory intent, especially since there were a number of Jewish names added to the list as a result of that last minute procedure. Finally, the absence of the names of Goldberg and Michael Ziegler on the final list, even after Drukkers intervention, was the result of a misunderstanding or miscommunication for it appears that they were not among the names Drukker asked Morales to add to the list. In short, we conclude that the problems some had in getting admitted to the event were the result of confusion and disorganization and not the product of religious or political discrimination.


II. THE HANDLING OF THE PRESS In a discussion about the forum approximately a week before it took place, Sundus Seif stated to Christina Haney that the students did not want any press at the event. This preference was repeated at the February 4th meeting, which was attended by a number of Brooklyn College administrators who were then joined by Seif and Carlos Guzman. The College representatives agreed to respect the students request subject to legal review by counsel. There is apparently some disagreement about the scope and purpose of the press exclusion. Most of the College administrators present at the February 4th meeting understood that the students wished to exclude all press from the event because of limited seating and a desire to avoid the forum turning into a press conference. Haney and Morales understood, either from that meeting or an earlier conversation with Seif, that the students had no objection to attendance by a member of the press who had signed up for the forum just like anyone else (assuming he or she was not bringing in a camera); that is also what Seif and Guzman told us they meant. The students also stated that their main concern was to prevent the use of video cameras because one of the speakers, Dr.Butler, had an agreement to publish her speech in The Nation following the forum. None of the Brooklyn College administrators at the February 4th meeting heard that concern from the students. Following the meeting, Ernesto Mora, who works in the Brooklyn College Office of Communications and Marketing, alerted the journalists with whom he had been in contact that the students had decided not to admit any press to the forum. The night before the forum, Guzman received a voice mail message from Marcelle Hopkins, a reporter at Al Jazeera; he returned the call the next day. Hopkins told him that she wanted to film the inside of the room and wanted to interview Dr. Butler or Omar Barghouti. Guzman stated to us that he then called Mora and informed him of the request and that Mora


rejected the idea of any shooting of video inside the building. Mora stated to us that on the morning of February 7th he received a call from Hopkins, who told him that she was coming to the event to shoot video and that he told her that the press was not allowed. Mora further stated that he then told Guzman and Seif that they could not decide to selectively admit certain journalists; it had to be all or none. Guzman and Seif agreed and suggested instead that the speakers would do a press conference outside before the forum was scheduled to begin. The College agreed to that change, and Mora told his press contacts of it. Mora also received a call that day from Reuven Blau, a reporter with the Daily News. Blau assumed that the press could attend and called to ask where he should go. Mora informed him that the students had decided not to grant access to the press. Blau attended the press conference and then sought to enter the building. According to Blau, he was told by a student that the press could not attend unless their name was on the RSVP list. Blau explained that he had received an email from SJP about the event the day before and that he had responded that he wished to attend and that his name should be on the list. The student checked the list and told him that his name was not there. Guzman recalled this conversation with Blau. Blaus email to SJP was dated February 7th at 1:23 p.m. Another reporter named Ari Lieberman, who writes for an on-line news magazine called FrontPage, also tried unsuccessfully to attend. On February 6th he sent an email to Charlotte Phillips, Chairperson of Brooklyn for Peace, one the co-sponsors of the event, stating that he would like to RSVP and requesting press privileges. Phillips forwarded his email to SJP that afternoon, asking SJP to respond directly to Lieberman and to advise if his request could be accommodated. On February 7th at mid-day and again three hours later, Lieberman sent emails


directly to SJP requesting a response. He never received one. Seif did not recall seeing any of those emails. Professor Corey Robin stated to us that he was standing on line with a reporter from the Daily Beast named Amy Schiller. She told Giovanelli that she was a member of the press. He replied that if she had not responded in advance, she could not go in. Schiller was thus turned away. As it turned out, two reporters attended the forum and wrote about it. One was Vivien Yee, of the New York Times; the other was Gail Sheehy of the Daily Beast.4 Both of their names were on the RSVP list among a group of names that had been added when the SJP students learned that the room had been changed and the new room could accommodate 60 more people. According to Seif, the additional names were taken from the email responses to SJP in the order in which they were received. Seif told us that she did not know who Lee or Sheehy are and did not recognize their names. She further stated that she did not invite any member of the press to attend. Guzman did not know who Sheehy is; however, he recognized Yees name as having been on the list but stated than he did not recall whether he knew she was a reporter at the time of the event. Mora told us that on the evening of the forum, he learned that Yee was inside. He asked Guzman about her, and Guzman replied that they had invited her and put her on the RSVP list. Guzman does not recall any conversation with Mora about Yee. Subsequent to our interviews with Seif and Guzman, their attorney provided us with some emails between Seif and Yee. They show that Yee contacted Seif on February 5th stating that she was the New York Times reporter scheduled to cover the event and that assumed she would be allowed in to watch the speeches. She also asked if there was anything special that she,

We were not able to interview either Yee or Sheehy. Yee, through counsel for the New York Times, declined our request to interview her, and Sheehy did not respond to our email to her.


her photographer, or videographer needed to do to make sure there were no problems. Seif replied the next day that Yee could attend but that SJP had decided not to allow any press inside the room to photograph or video. Conclusion: The evidence does not support an inference that the students made decisions regarding the admission or exclusion of the press based on religion or point of view. The students decided not to grant access to the press except for any journalists who signed up like any other member of the public. It may well have been a mistake for the Brooklyn College administration to have acceded to that policy for such a major event about which there was already so much interest and controversy. However, the policy appears to have been followed and resulted in the exclusion of all reporters who had not responded to the event invitation on line or emailed a timely response to SJP. Although Blau responded by email, he did so the afternoon of February 7th, after the RSVP and waiting lists had been finalized. Similarly, Liebermans email was forwarded by Phillips to SJP on the afternoon of the day before the event; it apparently went unnoticed. It may also have arrived when the lists were already full. We cannot rule out the possibility that Guzman tried to ensure the presence of two reporters, Yee and Hopkins. Mora certainly got the impression from his conversations with Guzman that Guzman had invited Yee. However, it may be that Guzman meant only that Yee emailed a response to the general invitation for the event and that they had added her to the RSVP list, along with others who had emailed responses, when they learned of the new room with its increased capacity. That version of the facts is supported by the email exchange between Yee and Seif. Mora also had the impression from his conversation with both Hopkins and Guzman that Guzman wanted to allow Hopkins into the building even though she was not on the RSVP list. However, Guzman stated that Hopkins called him and that he merely passed her


request on to Mora. In any event, Yee was admitted because she was on the RSVP list, and Hopkins was excluded. III. THE REMOVAL OF THE STUDENTS A. The Security Preparations for the Forum Before turning to the events surrounding the removal of four students from the BDS forum, it is necessary to relate the Colleges security preparations in advance of the event. Once it was determined that the forum would take place in the Student Center, the College decided to use the east entrance to the building for the admission of persons attending the event, to have a metal detector staffed by public safety officers there and to leave the main entrance of the building open for normal use. This meant that public safety officers would also have to be in the stairwell on each floor, in order to prevent access to the forum by persons who were using the building for other purposes, as well as on the floor where the forum was to take place. (As noted above, that was originally supposed to be the Penthouse, but was later changed to the sixth floor.) In addition, as the date of the forum approached ,CUNYs central office offered the assistance of its Director and Deputy Director of Public Safety and of some public safety officers assigned to the CUNY-wide SAFE Team. After some discussion, it was decided to use the SAFE Team officers in the stairwells and at the metal detector but not on the sixth floor, which was staffed by Brooklyn College public safety officers. In addition, the College alerted the local NYPD Precinct that there would be demonstrators outside the building before and during the forum. The principal planning meeting concerning security for the forum took place on February 4th in a conference room on the second floor of Boylan Hall. It included a large number of College administrators, including Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Joseph


Giovanelli, Vice President for Student Affairs Milga Morales, and Director of Public Safety Don Wenz; Sundus Seif and Carlos Guzman joined the meeting later. The College administrators made the following decisions which were conveyed to Seif and Guzman when they arrived. First, there would be two Brooklyn College public safety officers in plainclothes inside the room to monitor the event; if there was a problem, they were to inform one of the uniformed officers outside the room on the sixth floor. Second, the forum was to be treated as a student club event, rather than a College event and that the student volunteers and faculty marshals would be responsible for maintaining order.5 For example, Giovanelli stated that if during the Q&A, someone refused to relinquish the microphone, the student and faculty monitors would have to deal with it. Third, public safety officers would get involved only if there was a danger of physical violence or other safety concerns. Wenz made it clear that his officers would not interfere if there was only a verbal disagreement or disturbance. However, there was apparently no discussion or consideration of the question of who would have the authority to remove someone making a disturbance that did not involve or threaten safety. Another meeting occurred on the morning of February 7th in the Office of Student Affairs at the Student Center. It included Giovanelli, Morales, Wenz, Chase, Adams and Haney from Student Affairs, and Seif. Wenz went over the placement of public safety officers and discussed how possible scenarios would be handled, such as members of the audience rushing the speakers, a bomb threat and the setting off of fire alarms. Wenz also reiterated that the student volunteers and faculty marshals were to maintain order and that the public safety officers would get involved only if a disturbance became physical. Chase recalls saying to Seif that if there was a disturbance, the students should use and defer to the faculty marshals.

That decision was the result of the controversy over the decision of the Political Science Department to co-sponsor the event and the inference drawn by some that this constituted an endorsement of BDS. The College wished to avoid any action that might be interpreted as official support for the event.


Around 5:00 p.m. Wenz met with some of the student volunteers (including Guzman) and faculty marshals. He went over the same scenarios and ground rules as at the earlier meeting, stating again that the moderator, student volunteers and faculty marshals were responsible for maintaining order and that the public safety officers would get involved only if there was a threat to personal safety. It does not appear that instructions or advice was given to the student volunteers or faculty monitors as to how they should deal with a purely verbal disturbance although one faculty marshal, Professor Jocelyn Wills, recalled that Wenz said they should ask people not to be disruptive if they interrupted the speaker and that public safety would get involved if things got out of control. However, Professor Wills did not recall any discussion about who would make the decision that public safety would get involved. Around the same time, a roll call was held for the College public safety officers who were on duty that evening at which they were given their assignments by Sgt. Brown. Sgt. Dunlap was in charge on the 5th floor. Once they were at their posts, Wenz and/or Lt. Gomez checked in with them and went over their assignment. At no point were the officers told that the student volunteers and faculty marshals were responsible for maintaining order or that they were to act only if there was a threat to physical safety. Outside the building there were two groups of protestors. The anti-BDS group was across the street from the main entrance of the Student Center; the pro-BDS group was across the street from the east entrance. Thus, the pro-BDS were more visible to the people lining up for admission to the event. The placement of the protestors was decided by the NYPD. There is no evidence of any intent to favor one group over the other.


B. The Circumstances Surrounding the Removal Approximately 20 minutes into the speech by Dr. Butler, four Jewish students, Juris, Goldberg, Ari Ziegler and Michael Ziegler, were removed from the room. Their removal was

at the request of Guzman and was carried out by two public safety officers of Brooklyn College. We have interviewed 28 people who have direct knowledge of some aspect of that event. At times, their varying accounts put us in mind of the classic film Rashomon. As will become clear below, however, there are certain facts that are not in dispute or that are clearly established by independent evidence. Before summarizing them, we think it appropriate to present in some detail the principal accounts of the witnesses we interviewed. Although individual recollections differ even among those who have similar affiliations, we believe it will make our presentation easier to follow by organizing these accounts into four groups: (1) the four students who were removed, (2) the SJP students, (3) College staff and (4) other students and faculty. Finally, we will discuss the contents of the audiotapes. 1. The Four Students We begin with the statements of the four students who were removed. Goldberg, Juris and Michael Ziegler entered the room after Dr. Butler had begun speaking. They sat in seats that Ari Ziegler had saved for them right next to the door and approximately three rows from the last row at the back of the room. Juris was on the aisle; Goldberg was next to her; then Ari and Michael Ziegler to her left. Juris took out a notebook and asked Ari Ziegler and then Goldberg for a pen. Goldberg reached into her bag and took out some sheets of paper containing questions and some fact sheets and placed them on her lap. Goldberg told us that she intended to take notes on the back of one of the question sheets and to hand out the fact sheets after the forum was over. Juris asked to see one of the sheets, and Goldberg gave it to her. Michael Ziegler


whispered to Ari Ziegler to ask Goldberg to pass him one of sheets because he wanted to ask a question during the Q&A period. Ari asked Goldberg, who passed some sheets to Ari who then passed them on to Michael. Approximately five minutes later, Michael Ziegler noticed Guzman standing along the wall talking to another student and pointing at them. Michael said to Ari that he thought Guzman told the other student not to let them ask questions. Shortly thereafter, Guzman came over and asked Goldberg to hand over the papers. She offered him one. Guzman demanded all of them, stating that that if she did not hand them over, he would have them removed. Goldberg refused to hand over the papers and asked why she could not keep them. Guzman left and Goldberg put the papers back in her bag. Guzman came back with two public safety officers and pointed at all four of them. One of the officers asked them to leave. As they got up, Juris stated this is a suppression of freedom of speech. The students were led to the lobby outside the room where there were other public safety officers, Morales and other Brooklyn College staff and some SJP students. Several conversations then took place simultaneously. Goldberg and/or Michael Ziegler asked Morales why they had been removed, and she replied: This is their event; they are calling the shots. Ari Ziegler asked one of the public safety officers why they had been asked to leave and was told that they had been disruptive. Ari asked if they could go into the room across the hall to talk about it and was told they had to go. The four students were then escorted down the stairs and out of the building. 2. The SJP Students We turn next to the account of the SJP students. Ismail Bekiroglu was one of the student volunteers and was standing with his back to the door when Dr. Butler began speaking. About


15 minutes into her speech, he saw two members of the audience turn around toward four students seated a couple of rows behind them; they said shhh, and one placed a finger over her mouth. At about the same time, a male in the row behind the four students said quiet down. Bekiroglu did not himself hear the four students talking or making any noise. He moved closer to where they were seated and stayed there for a while; he still did not hear any noise. About 10 or 15 minutes later Guzman came up to Bekiroglu and asked him to keep an eye out for pamphlets and flyers because members of the audience were not permitted to pass them out inside. Bekiroglu noticed one of the young men among the four students looking behind him constantly. Then he saw either the other young man or one of the young women take a stack of papers from her bag or from under her jacket on her lap. They then broke the stack up and passed them down to each other. When he looked at the young woman, she covered up the papers. Bekiroglu went over to Guzman and told him that the four students may have flyers. Guzman approached them and said that if you have flyers, you cannot hand them out inside and asked them to hand them over to him. One of the young women said no. Guzman went and got a public safety officer, and she asked them to hand over the fliers. The young woman again refused and said we dont have to hand over the flyers. A second public safety officer arrived and told the four students that they needed to come out. As they were getting up, one of the young women call out that this was their right; the officers then took them out. Bekiroglu never saw any of the four students distribute flyers to anyone other than each other. Guzman told us that Hannah Johami, one of the young women who had been seated at the table in the lobby on the 6th floor checking to make sure that each person entering was on the list, came over to him and told him that there were four people inside the room who were disturbing the event. The two went in together, and Guzman approached Bekiroglu, who was


standing alongside the wall near the door on the right side of the room, a short distance from the four students. Bekiroglu confirmed that a member of the audience had complained that the four students were making a disturbance. Guzman heard them mumbling to each other but did not hear anyone complain. As Guzman and Bekiroglu looked in their direction, the four students stopped talking and tried to hide the flyers they were holding. Guzman did not see them pass the flyers to anyone other than themselves. Guzman went over to Morales, who was standing nearby at the back wall of the room, and told her that there were four students disturbing the event. Morales said she would talk to them first and went over to them. Guzman could not hear what she said, but when she finished, the four students were still talking. Guzman then approached them and asked them to give him the flyers. According to Guzman, he intended to give them to Morales so she could return them to the four students after the forum was over in case they wanted to distribute them outside the building. Goldberg refused, stating that she was not giving him anything. Guzman signaled for help from one of the public safety officers who came over and escorted them out. The two SJP students at the check-in table on the sixth floor were Ameera Hasan and Hana Johami. After the program had begun, a young woman, who appeared to be a student but not from Brooklyn College (because they did not recognize her) came out of the room and told them some people inside were creating a disturbance and that she thought they were passing out flyers. Hasan followed her inside, and the young woman pointed out the four students. Hasan told Guzman, who was standing nearby and heard Guzman go over and ask them to give him the flyers. Hasan then went back out to the table and Johami entered the room. She came up right behind Guzman, heard Guzman ask Goldberg to give him some papers and Goldberg refused. Johami also saw Goldberg putting some papers into her bag. Johami then saw a female public


safety officer tell Goldberg to give her the papers or she would have to leave. Goldberg refused, and she and the others were asked to leave. As they walked out of the room and into the lobby, Johami heard Morales ask them to quiet down. Another student named Jenna Massoud was seated on the right side of the room, approximately three rows from the back and four seats in from the aisle next to the door. About 20 minutes into the first speech, she heard a ruckus behind her and heard a young woman in front of her say shhh. She turned around and saw a group of students who had just entered settling down into their seats. As they did so they were talking. Massoud stated there was continuous shushing and that after about five minutes, a public safety officer came over. Massoud told us she did not see Guzman. 3. College Staff A number of Brooklyn College public safety officers and administrators were present at the forum. The only ones who were continuously in the room were the two officers in plainclothes. One, Christopher Anderson, was seated in the back on the left side of the room and was thus completely across the room from the four students. The other, Yehia Shehata, stood in the back on the right side and was therefore only a few rows behind the four students. Neither officer observed or heard any disturbance. Shehata noticed Guzman speaking to them (and also a female student with him) and saw Guzman go out and get one of the uniformed officers. Shehata also heard one of the female students who was asked to leave say This is not freedom of speech; this is hate speech. At no point during the event did any of the uniformed officers, their supervisors, or College administrators ask Anderson or Shehata if there had been a disturbance.


Morales moved back and forth between the back of the room near the doors and the lobby area just outside the room. At one point she saw the four students looking around and talking to each other but she could not hear their voices. Nor did she ever see them handing out papers. Later she observed Guzman looking agitated. He came up to her and said that the four students were disturbing the event and that they were handing out flyers. Morales went over to Giovanelli and related what Guzman had told her. Giovanelli asked if the students had been told to stop. Morales then suggested to Guzman that he ask them to stop. She saw him go over to the four students and say something but could not hear what he said. Morales moved to the back wall of the room again. The room was quiet. The next thing she saw was that a couple of public safety officers entered the room and escorted the four students out. Morales followed them into the lobby. She does not recall saying to anyone there that this was the students event and that they got to call the shots. Giovanelli stated that he recalled seeing Guzman come out. Morales told Giovanelli that Guzman said there were students passing out flyers and talking. Giovanelli replied that if he was having trouble inside, he should use his student volunteers and faculty marshals. Then Guzman came out again and said to him and a couple of public safety officers that the students who were making a disturbance would not listen to him and had to leave. Giovanelli, who is new at Brooklyn College, did not know the public safety officers and thought they might be from CUNY. He followed them inside and stood at a distance, intending to make sure that no force was used to remove the students. The two uniformed public safety officers who asked the four students to leave were Raishawn Harris and Maureen Knight. Harris stated that Guzman came out and told her that he needed to remove four people because they were causing a disturbance and interfering with the


speech. Harris was the only officer at the door, which was ajar; Morales and Giovanelli were nearby. Harris entered and saw two young women seated at the end of a row near the door. They were shuffling some papers. The two young men next to them were not doing anything. Harris motioned to Knight to come in and assist him. Knight told us that as she entered, she heard Guzman say that the students were disturbing the event and were waving some papers. One of the young women said they just contained questions. Harris asked the two women to come with them. One of them said we werent doing anything. Knight said that they should just come outside to discuss it and maybe they could go back inside. Guzman pointed to the two men and said they had to leave too. As they left, one of the young women said this is not freedom of speech. After the students were escorted to the lobby area outside the room, the situation was somewhat chaotic. In addition to the four students, Harris and Knight, there were Morales, Giovanelli, Guzman and several other SJP students, and additional public safety officers, one of whom was videotaping so there would be evidence as to whether any force was used.6 Sgt. Dunlap quickly joined the group, followed soon after by Wenz. Several conversations were taking place simultaneously, and a number of people were speaking at the same time. Wenz recalled asking Morales what had happened. She replied that the four students had been holding and waving flyers and disrupting the event and that Guzman had asked them to leave. Wenz asked Morales what she wanted to do. She replied its their event. Wenz then directed that the students be taken downstairs. Dunlap, Knight and one other public safety officer accompanied them.

The videotape lasts only 22 seconds and does not add anything to our knowledge or understanding of the event.


4. Other Students and Attendees and Faculty We interviewed a number of other students and attendees and several faculty members (including one faculty marshal) who were at the forum. One student, Emma Francis-Snyder, who is President of Brooklyn College Students for Global Justice, was seated several rows in front of the four students. She stated to us that the room was very quiet but seemed tense; the sound of the protestors outside could be heard. At one point during Dr. Butlers speech, FrancisSnyder heard some rustling of papers and the sound of some people talking in a normal tone of voice. She turned around, saw the four students talking, and said shhh to them. About ten minutes later, he heard voices again, louder than before. She turned around and saw Guzman standing over the four students, motioning for them to leave. They all stood up. Francis-Snyder recognized Juris from a journalism class and heard her say this is a violation of our freedom of speech. Francis-Snyder saw that Goldberg and another student had papers with them but did not see anyone handing them out. Jason Farbman, who was seated one or two rows behind the four students, saw them muttering among themselves, signaling to a group of other students nearby and dividing some papers among themselves. Farbman thought they were getting ready to distribute the papers but did not actually see them do so before they were asked to leave. Several other students, Edward Klein, Igor Kozlov and Michael Fuzaylov, were seated on the right side, several rows from the front, near the door. This placed them only a few rows from the four students who were removed. None of them heard any disturbance or saw them passing out papers prior to their removal. Klein is a lawyer and graduate student and a member of Jewish Voices for Peace. Kozlov and Fuzaylov are Brooklyn College students who are active in Hillel. Kozlov made one of the audiotapes that we reviewed.


Similarly, none of the faculty members we interviewed observed any disturbance prior to the removal of the four students. Professor Wills and Professor Corey Robins were seated on the left side of the room near the back and were thus some distance away. Professors Immanual Ness and Mojabaolu Olufunke Okome were seated on the right side close to the front and were therefore not far from the four students.7 5. The Audiotapes We reviewed three different audiotapes made by students at the forum. One was made from the left side of the room, and we heard nothing other than the sound of the speakers voice. The other two were made in close proximity to the four students, and what we heard on them was the same. On both of these recordings, the sound of Dr. Butlers voice is clear throughout and without interruption. There are some soft additional sounds. Around 13 minutes after Dr. Butler began speaking, we heard a zipper and then about 30 seconds later a female voice followed by a male voice. Approximately 17 minutes into Dr. Butlers speech, there is the sound of a voice (perhaps female) and some shuffling of paper. At neither of these points could we hear anyone say shhh. This may have been the moment when Juris, Goldberg and Michael Ziegler arrived and settled into their seats. Approximately eight minutes later, and over a period of approximately four minutes, we heard intermittent muffled voices, interspersed on two occasions by the sound of shhh, culminating with a female voice saying: This is an oppression of freedom of speech; this is an oppression. This would appear to be when Guzman and then the public safety officer approached the four students and asked them to leave.

We also reviewed an email from Professor Darryl Kenneth Estey, who also observed no disturbance. We were not able to interview Professor Estey because of scheduling difficulties and do not know where he was seated.


C. Brooklyn Colleges Response to Press Reports The day after the forum, Brooklyn College began to receive inquiries about the removal of the four students. Jeremy Thompson, Director of the Colleges Office of Communications and Marketing, consulted with Mora, Morales and Giovanelli. The College then told some reporters that based on official reports, the four students were being disruptive. The primary source of that statement was an email from Morales giving an account of the students removal. Although that account states that Guzman complained about the students talking and distributing flyers from their seats, it did not make clear that the four students were removed entirely on the word of Guzman and that Morales, Giovanelli and the public safety officers who removed the students had not witnessed the alleged disturbance. Thompson did not question Morales or Giovanelli about what they had seen and did not learn until the following week that no one employed by Brooklyn College had observed the alleged disturbance. D. Conclusions 1. It is clear that there was no justification for the removal of the four students.

They did not create a disturbance. Even though the sound system was not working perfectly and Dr. Butler spoke in a soft voice, she could be heard clearly at all times. At most the students made some noise when they entered and got settled into their seats. Even then only a few people nearby heard them. Any subsequent noise would appear to have been the result of Guzmans intervention. Nor were any of the four students wrong in refusing to hand over their papers. Even if we were to credit Guzmans statement that he intended to give the papers to Morales to return to the four students after the event, he did not communicate that to them or provide them with any reason why they should be required to surrender their documents. It is undisputed that at the time Guzman made this demand, the four students had not passed them out to anyone else.



The evidence does not permit a confident inference about whether the removal of

the four students was for a discriminatory purpose. In our view, there is no support for an inference of discrimination based on religion. Although the four students were all Jewish, and the two males wore yarmulkes, Guzman and the other SJP students were aware that there were other Jewish members of the audience in the room, and none of them was removed. A more plausible inference can be drawn that the removal of the four students was motivated by their political viewpoint. On the one hand, Guzman knew Goldberg from a prior SJP event at which she had asked questions that challenged Palestinian positions. Furthermore, he was aware that the four students had been admitted by Vice President Morales even though they were not on the RSVP list, about which he may have harbored some resentment. On the other hand, Guzman stressed to us that the atmosphere in the room was tense and that he was concerned to avoid anything that might lead to a major disturbance. Other SJP students, Francis-Snyder, Farbman and Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director of Jewish Voices for Peace, shared this perception that the room was tense. By contrast, Professor Wills, one of the faculty marshals, described the atmosphere as a love fest. Moreover, nothing the four students had done gave rise to a reasonable fear that a disturbance was about to erupt. Nevertheless, we credit the sincerity of Guzmans concern even if it was mistaken. Neither he nor any of the other SJP students had been involved in an event that was as large and as controversial as this one or that was accompanied by such serious security preparation. Not surprisingly, the students appeared somewhat overwhelmed. In sum, we feel any conclusion about a discriminatory motive would be speculative, and we therefore cannot reach such a conclusion. 3. The Brooklyn College administration did not handle this event well. It was

probably a mistake, once the forum became such a large and controversial event, to give the


students (and a few faculty recruited by the students) primary responsibility for maintaining order unless there was a threat to physical safety. Even if that was the correct decision, it was not sufficiently elaborated and communicated either to the student volunteers and faculty marshals or to the public safety officers. In particular, insufficient consideration was given to the question of how a verbal disruption would be handled; certainly, none of the public safety officers received clear instructions about this. Furthermore, no decision was made as to who would have the authority to remove members of the audience in the case of a verbal disturbance. As events unfolded, no senior administrator intervened to determine what was the evidence for the alleged disturbance or to exercise adult judgment as to whether the facts justified the removal of the four students from the room and then the building. Nor did any of the public safety officers check with a superior before removing the students from the room. Instead, all of the Brooklyn College personnel deferred to the request of a single, interested person, who, unbeknownst to them, was not even a student at Brooklyn College. IV. THE Q&A SESSION When Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti had finished their talks, the moderator, Sundus Seif, opened the program up for questions. There were two microphones. The first two persons at each microphone asked their questions and then Butler and Barghouti responded. Then the next four persons asked questions, and again the speakers responded. After the ninth person had asked a question, Seif announced that the next question would be the last. At that time, there were two persons standing at each of the two microphones waiting to ask a question: Kozlov and Fuzaylov were at one microphone; Edelstein and a young woman were at the other. After the speakers responded to the last two questions, Seif made some announcements, and then the


forum ended, followed by refreshments and book signing by Barghouti in the room across the lobby. Some of the Jewish students believe that the ending of the Q&A was done for discriminatory reasons. In support of that claim, they cite the fact that the Q&A ended 15 to 20 minutes before 9:00, which was the announced ending time for the forum. Others have stated that with Seifs announcement the forum ended at about 9:00. We have been unable to establish the times when either the Q&A ended or the forum ended. Seif told us that she wanted to make sure the forum ended on time because she wanted to make sure there was time for Barghouti to sign books and because she knew Butler had to leave as soon as the forum ended. The audiotapes of the event reveal that four of the ten questions asked can be fairly characterized as challenging the BDS position. In addition, none of the male students who did not get an opportunity to ask a question was wearing a yarmulke, and Seif denied knowing who they were or what their views were. Conclusion: We find that the evidence does not support an inference that the Q&A session was ended for the purpose of preventing the last four students from asking questions or with any discriminatory intent. RECOMMENDATIONS We believe that there are several important lessons to be learned from what we discovered about this forum for the planning and conduct of future public events at Brooklyn College and on other CUNY campuses that are likely to generate significant interest and/or controversy, regardless of whether they are organized by student clubs, College faculty or departments or the College itself. However, it should be noted that Brooklyn College and CUNY are large, complex and diverse institutions. Accordingly, we offer these


recommendations tentatively, with a view to start a broader conversation across the University as to the best way to handle such events. First, there needs to be in place a reliable system of handling the registration process. Each College administration should provide to its student clubs and other organizations, templates, software or technical assistance that will enable them to conduct registrations on line and generate timely, accurate and alphabetized lists of registrants and to generate confirmations to those who sign up. In the case of student clubs, the process should be closely supervised by the Office of Student Affairs. Second, as a general matter reasonable access by the press to public events should be provided whenever possible. Decisions about press access should be made by the College administration after consulting with the affected or interested constituencies on campus. Third, prior to each such event, one or two persons should be clearly identified as the persons, and the only persons, with authority to have members of the audience removed except when there is an immediate threat to physical safety that would not permit consultation. That person should be the highest ranking public safety officer in attendance (preferably the Director of Public Safety or his/her Deputy) or the highest ranking College administrator in attendance (preferably a Senior Vice President, Vice President or Dean). Fourth, all public safety personnel should receive further and regular training that they must consult with the designated public safety supervisor or College administrator before removing anyone except when there is an immediate threat to public safety. Dated: New York, New York April 12, 2013


You might also like