Critics: ASU embraced ‘ethnic intimidation’ to stop Gaza event in Tempe | Phoenix New Times


ASU embraced ‘ethnic intimidation’ to stop campus Gaza event, critics say

The school's last-minute effort to cancel Rep. Rashida Tlaib and a call for an Israel-Hamas ceasefire backfired.
Attendees at a Nov. 17 event on ASU's campus in Tempe listened to speakers virtually after the school revoked access to the venue.
Attendees at a Nov. 17 event on ASU's campus in Tempe listened to speakers virtually after the school revoked access to the venue. TJ L'Heureux
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Just hours before Arizona State University’s Neeb Hall in Tempe was supposed to host an Arizona Palestinian Network event with Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the university publicly revoked permission for the hall to be used and canceled the event.

Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat and the only Palestinian-American in Congress, planned to speak at a Nov. 17 event titled “Palestine is an American Issue." She was to be joined by other speakers calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Instead, the crowd of about 50 who had gathered for the presentation huddled around a laptop outside the locked doors of Neeb Hall, with Tlaib and state Rep. Athena Salman, a Tempe Democrat, delivering remarks virtually. Event organizers used a megaphone to amplify the laptop’s speakers so the attendees could hear.

“Instead of the university actually being a marketplace of competing ideas and voices and perspectives, the university has chosen ethnic intimidation to shut down the voice of the person who is speaking out against such violence against the Palestinian people,” Salman said.

Tlaib told the crowd it's time to end war crimes taking place in the Israel-Hamas war. The U.S. House censured Tlaib on Nov. 8 for her criticism of Israel for killing of civilians in Gaza. The lawmaker has also condemned the Oct. 7 Hama terrorist attacks that sparked the war.

“We’re done supporting and funding this violence. We’re done watching children being pulled out of the rubble, blood coming down their faces. We’re tired of allowing folks to be able to think that the answer to war crimes on Oct. 7 was more war crimes,” Tlaib told the crowd at ASU.

Several young demonstrators also spoke at the event, calling ASU’s decision to revoke access to the hall “shameful.”

“Remember this moment: They made us be here on the fucking footpath next to a computer on the ground because of their last-minute changes,” one woman said.

“They don’t give a fuck about you,” a man told crowd. “They do not give a fuck about you, and you need to understand that. If they could have you by the fucking dumpsters, they would.”
click to enlarge Speaker at a Nov. 17 event at Arizona State University in Tempe
“They don’t give a fuck about you,” a man at the event said before leading a march from the campus to University Avenue in Tempe.
TJ L'Heureux

‘Not welcome in Arizona’

On Nov. 16, one day before Tlaib was scheduled to speak at ASU, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers — Reps. Michael Carbone, Alma Hernandez, Alexander Kolodin and Consuelo Hernandez — released a scathing statement letting Tlaib know she was not welcome in Arizona.

"We believe that such extremist, antisemitic views should be condemned, and they are not welcome in the state of Arizona," the statement said. "ASU should not use public dollars, collected through student fees, to support SJP – an organization that, in addition to opposing the existence of Israel, proudly denies the existence of the United States (calling America ‘occupied Turtle Island’)."

The next day, ASU released a written statement that it canceled the event since it was planned by groups not affiliated with ASU.

“Organizers of events using ASU facilities must be properly registered with ASU and must meet all university requirements for crowd management, parking, security and insurance,” the statement said. “In addition, the events must be produced in a way which minimizes disruption to academic and other activities on campus. The event featuring Congresswoman Tlaib was planned and produced by groups not affiliated with ASU and was organized outside of ASU policies and procedures."

Tlaib's presentation was hosted by ASU chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and the Arizona Palestine Network. According to ASU's website, SJP "is a diverse group of students, faculty, staff and community members of all cultures and backgrounds at Arizona State University." SJP also holds weekly meetings on campus.

The statement did not elaborate on what policies and procedures were not followed, nor did it explain why the school questioned SJP's university affiliation.
click to enlarge David Boyles confronted at Arizona State University
Turning Point’s Kalen D’Almeida approached ASU professor David Boyles (right) to berate him on Oct. 11.

Double standards for speakers at ASU?

ASU's reaction to Tlaib stands in clear contrast to a number of recent far-right events held on campus. 

Last year, the university spent more than $11,000 on security for white nationalist Jared Taylor to speak at an ASU College Republicans United event.

Taylor was the editor of a now-discontinued magazine that regularly published proponents of eugenics and sought to conduct research proving that white people are superior to those of other races.

“Blacks and whites are different. When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears,” Taylor wrote in 2005.

On Feb. 8, ASU hosted a “Health, Wealth and Happiness” seminar at Gammage Auditorium in Tempe. The event featured a number of conservative speakers, including talk show host Dennis Prager, activist Charlie Kirk and financial author Robert Kiyosaki.

ASU faculty members allegedly raised concerns about the speakers, stating that they are “purveyors of hate who have publicly attacked women, people of color, the LGBTQ community (and) institutions of our democracy.”

The event was allowed to proceed, and ASU later was required by the Arizona Legislature’s Ad Hoc Committee on Freedom of Expression to launch an investigation into allegations that faculty bullied students into not attending.

“Arizona State University is committed, in practice, not just rhetoric, to all things that support free speech and all its components,” the university said in a written statement about the allegations. The university released a 75-page report that found no evidence of wrongdoing.

In September, ASU doubled down on its practice of granting meeting space for right-wing figureheads as it welcomed Kirk — founder of Turning Point USA — to its Tempe campus. The Phoenix-based organization agitates conservative youth, particularly on college campuses.

Ironically, as Kirk spoke inside Katzin Concert Hall on Sept. 27, he called for state lawmakers to defund the university.

"As an Arizona taxpayer, I think the Arizona House has to defund Arizona State University," Kirk said at the event.

A month later, Turning Point USA representatives bullied and assaulted a queer ASU professor on National Coming Out Day.
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