(February 23, 2021 / JNS) A Jewish student at Tufts University who claims that he has been the subject months-long campaign of anti-Semitic intimidation, harassment and discrimination is calling on the university to intervene.
Max Price, a junior who is a member of the Tufts Community Union Judiciary (TCUJ), which is tasked with fact-checking and removing bias student government legislation, has been outspoken against an SJP proposal to include its “Deadly Exchange Campaign” referendum in the student election ballot.
“Mr. Price has been subjected to anti-Semitic harassment targeting him on the basis of his ethnic and ancestral Jewish identity,” stated a letter written by Price’s lawyers to Tufts University president Anthony Monaco, Tufts general counsel Mary Jeka and Tufts provost Nadine Aubry.
The referendum blames Israel and American Jewish supporters of Israel for fueling what they call “racist conduct” by law enforcement in the United States and seeks to link Israel to white supremacy and police brutality.
The campaign was initially launched by SJP in the spring of 2018 to demand that the university end military training trips for the Tufts University Police Department (TUPD), according to The Tufts Daily, the student newspaper at the university.
The paper quotes SJP member Molly Tunis, who said that the group started the campaign after it learned that Kevin Maguire, executive director of public safety and chief of TUPD, attended a training trip with the Israeli military in December 2017.
Price’s lawyers, who are from the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, claim that Price endured a months-long campaign of intimidation, harassment and discrimination for speaking against SJP’s attempt to include the referendum on the ballot.
‘They wanted to silence me’
The harassment included Price having to sit through meetings by Tufts student-government leadership questioning his personal beliefs and identity as a pro-Israel Jew, according to the lawyers. Even after the TCUJ determined that there was no evidence of bias and no need for Price to recuse himself, he was placed on “mute” for the entire final Zoom meeting when TCUJ members considered the referendum.
“My job as a Senate judiciary member is to remove bias from any student body referendum. When I tried to do that with the ‘Deadly Exchange’ referendum, SJP launched a months-long campaign of harassment, slander and intimidation against me as the only Zionist Jew on the judiciary,” Price told JNS.
“They wanted me to back down and to silence me, and when I didn’t, SJP expanded their campaign to slander me in the student newspaper, had me interrogated numerous times as to whether I was fit to hold office, attacked me with age-old anti-Semitic tropes about money and power, threatened me with impeachment, and now, I’m being denied a fair trial,” he said.
Price’s lawyers also charge that members of the TCU Senate, which is set to preside over Price’s hearing, have made statements that utilize anti-Semitic tropes about money and power; indicate explicit support for SJP and its referendum; and demonstrate personal bias against Price.
Patrick Collins, a spokesperson for Tufts University, told JNS that the university “takes very seriously any allegation of discrimination and has adopted policies and procedures to protect members of our community who feel they are the subject of discrimination. This policy is enforced by the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO) which conducts thorough investigations into allegations of discrimination and determines when policy violations have occurred. ”
Collins added that the TCU “creates its own internal rules and has established procedures to be followed when it receives complaints about the TCU and students who are in leadership positions. TCU, like all student organizations, is subject to the university’s non-discrimination policies and OEO investigation process.”
“We are not at liberty to discuss specific student cases or allegations,” he stated.
Alyza Lewin, president of the Brandeis Center that is representing Price, told JNS that “this is the worst case of incessant, continuous, non-stop harassment of a Jewish student that I have seen on campus.”
She continued: “Max happens to be a strong young man, and I commend him for his strength, but no student should have to go through this. That is why there are federal laws and university policies to prevent this type of ongoing and persistent discrimination and harassment.”
Lewin called on the university to intervene on Price’s behalf.
“We have brought all of this to President Monaco’s attention, and he and his administration have done absolutely nothing. They’ve abandoned Max and the Jewish community. They have abdicated their responsibility. It’s shameful. The university should reverse course, intervene immediately and start taking effective measures to address the anti-Semitism on campus.”
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