update deskSchools & Higher Education

CUNY condemns law student’s commencement ‘hate speech’

“We cannot and will not condone hateful rhetoric on our campuses,” CUNY’s trustees and chancellor stated more than two weeks after the student speaker’s talk.

Graduation ceremony. Credit: Pixabay.
Graduation ceremony. Credit: Pixabay.

A few days after video footage recirculated on social media of an antisemitic commencement speech by a law student at City University of New York on May 12, the public university’s board of trustees and chancellor renounced the talk as “hate speech.”

The student, Fatima Mousa Mohammed, who is also an activist, had accused Israel of indiscriminately murdering and fomenting lynch mobs. The Jewish state is a “project of settler colonialism” and perpetuates “the ongoing nakba,” she added.

In the statement, CUNY chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez and the board began by recognizing the importance of free speech, a “foundation of higher education.” But they distinguished that from hate speech, which has “no place on our campuses or in our city, our state or our nation.”

Mohammed’s words were “hate speech as they were a public expression of hate toward people and communities based on their religion, race or political affiliation,” the university leadership stated.

The talk was “particularly unacceptable at a ceremony celebrating the achievements of a wide diversity of graduates” and is incompatible with CUNY’s founding principles, they added. 

“We cannot and will not condone hateful rhetoric on our campuses,” they stated.

CUNY has faced recent criticism of antisemitic behavior. An April 6 New York Post op-ed referred to it as “America’s most antisemitic university.”

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