At Williams College, students can join any of a number of groups, from conservative unions to liberal ones.  There’s even a group dedicated to only signing Disney-media songs. (The Aristocows, if you are wondering.) And that’s how it should be.  Students who come to this Massachusetts college from all over the nation should all be welcomed.  They should all be able to find a niche of like-minded people and friends.

But not everyoneis welcomed there.  Even though the student-run College Council hasn’t rejected any applications for registered student groups in over ten years, they just did by an overwhelming majority vote.  Thirteen people voted against recognizing a pro-Israel club (Williams Initiative for Israel) while only 8 voted in support.

The students who voted against the club did not hide their reasoning.  One student said that the “existence of Israel is built on the killing of Palestinians.”

Another said that the “club is pro-Israel, which means you support a state that is built on Palestinian land.” The student went on to clarify that the group was rejected because they believed “in the right of Israel to exist.”  

Another described Israel as a “fascist state.”  

This group’s mission was “to support Israel and the pro-Israel campus community” and “to educate the College on issues concerning Israel and the Middle East.” 

And that’s what got their application rejected from Williams. Which is the college’s prerogative. At Commentarymagazine, Jonathan Marks explains the situation:

At a state university, this would be an open and shut case. As the Foundation for Individual Rights (FIRE) observes in its “Guide to Free Speech on Campus,” the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that public “universities must remain viewpoint neutral when funding student organizations. Viewpoint neutrality means that public universities, in making their decisions about funding, may not take into consideration what position or opinion a student or group of students stands for or advocates.”

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.”

In other words, Williams is violating its own free expression commitments. Colleges can’t have it both ways.  They can’t brag in their handbooks about their commitment to diversity and then discriminate based on the student groups’ views.  

Image Credit:

Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism

About The Author

Mark Meckler

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.