As Colleges and Universities Try To Suppress Pro-Palestinian Protests, The Guild Has Fought Back

by Jeff Feuer

As the slaughter of mainly women and children civilians in Gaza continues, repression of student protests calling for an immediate ceasefire, divestment from arms manufacturers, cutting of ties with the Israeli government, and other remedial measures has increased at Massachusetts colleges and universities, both public and private.  Students have faced immediate suspensions from their school without being given a hearing, evictions from their student housing, orders that they not be given final grades or be allowed to receive their diplomas, even though they have completed all of their course work, and other severe disciplinary sanctions.  All of this has occurred, despite the fact that previous very similar demonstrations and protests (including encampments, building takeovers, and blocking roads) over the last 25 years at these very same colleges and universities, over issues such as the police murder of George Floyd and other black men and women, Black Lives Matter, divestment from fossil fuels, anti-apartheid, the Muslim ban, immigrant rights, and climate change, never resulted in the kind of harsh punishments currently being imposed on pro-Palestinian student demonstrators.

In response, our chapter of the NLG has formed a coalition with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MA) and Palestine Legal to mobilize resources to assist these students and help protect their rights.  Our efforts have included creating a Student Activism Webinar containing important information on the legal rights of student protesters, providing Direct Action trainings, providing  trained Legal Observers™ to help deter campus police misconduct, and creating a Know Your Rights guide for College Disciplinary Hearings.  The Guild also sent a legal memo to MIT threatening legal action should MIT try to illegally evict students from their dormitory or graduate student housing.

In addition to the work of our Mass Defense Committee (representing more than 350 students who have been criminally charged for protest actions), the Guild and CAIR-MA together have developed a group of immigration attorneys who have been providing advice to international students threatened with the loss of their student visas and other immigration consequences, and a group of employment attorneys who can advise graduate students and faculty faced with the loss of their jobs or other employment sanctions from colleges and universities.

The NLG’s resources have been stretched to the limit by the events of the past few months.  We need our members to step up in this time of crisis to help protect the rights of students to have peaceful demonstrations and the free speech that is supposedly championed by our colleges and universities in their own written policies.  We need lawyers to help students prepare for disciplinary proceedings, to help appeal unjust and disproportionate sanctions and punishments, to protect international students from possible deportation, and faculty and graduate students from being fired.

If you can take on even one student disciplinary case or provide advice to even one student or faculty member, PLEASE JOIN US TODAY!  We need YOU to step forward and step up (as opposed to standing back and standing by), so please contact the Guild office at or 617-227-7335 to volunteer.