Controversy over Pro-Palestinian Advocacy in Melbourne Schools, Alleged Censorship at Amherst College, Student Film Removed from YouTube, and Lawsuit over Mead Name Removal at Middlebury College

2024-04-11 10:43:37.218000

The controversy surrounding pro-Palestinian advocacy in Melbourne schools continues as the Victorian Education Minister, Ben Carroll, issues a warning to state school teachers. Carroll cautions against participating in pro-Palestinian advocacy, stating that it could contribute to division and disharmony. The government's stance has sparked accusations of attempting to silence important discussions on human rights issues related to the Israel-Gaza war. A teacher involved in the planned advocacy has called on the Australian Education Union (AEU) Victorian branch to promote a 'School Staff Week of Action for Palestine.' The teacher expressed concerns about censorship and the spread of 'ill-informed and inaccurate' information among students. The Israel-Gaza war has resulted in the deaths of 14,000 Palestinians and 1,200 Israelis.

In a separate incident, students and activist groups protested a lecture by Dr. Bonnie Jenkins, the USA's Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, at Victoria University of Wellington. The protest was against further collaborations with the USA and in light of the ongoing US-funded genocide in Gaza. A peaceful protest was also held inside the lecture hall, with activists speaking up about the US-funded genocide in Gaza and the weapons being sent to Gaza. Dr. Jenkins was ushered away twice, and eventually, it was announced that she would not continue with her lecture. The protest was organized by various groups, including Justice for Palestine, Student Justice for Palestine — Pōneke (SJP), Stop AUKUS, and Peace Action Wellington. The lecture was organized by Victoria University's Centre for Strategic Studies and was supposed to address security challenges in the 21st century.

The Victorian Education Minister's warning to state school teachers about pro-Palestinian advocacy has sparked accusations of attempting to silence important discussions on human rights issues related to the Israel-Gaza war. The government's stance has been criticized for potentially hindering freedom of speech and limiting the ability of teachers to engage students in critical thinking and informed discussions. On the other hand, the government argues that it aims to prevent division and disharmony in schools. The controversy highlights the ongoing debate surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the role of education in addressing sensitive political issues.

Meanwhile, at Amherst College, a controversy has emerged regarding alleged censorship of pro-Palestinian advocacy. After the Women’s and Gender Center declined to publish a student employee's column about reproductive health in Gaza, employees staged a walkout to protest against censorship and demand an investigation into the college's financial ties to Israel, as well as a call for a ceasefire. The student employee, Logan Maniscalco, wanted to write about restricted reproductive healthcare access for Palestinian women, but their supervisors determined that the piece would not be published. Close to a dozen student employees walked out of a reception with President Michael Elliott and Dean of Students Angie Tissi-Gassoway, reading a statement that condemned censorship and called for an investigation into the college's financial ties to Israel and a ceasefire in Gaza. The protest was joined by members of Amherst for Palestine and Amherst Jews for Ceasefire, who connected the student's column to a broader pattern of censorship on campus. The college denied that the actions qualified as censorship and stated that the views in the column represent the Women’s and Gender Center and the college. The student employee decided to publish the article in The Student instead. The college will be meeting with some students who signed the protest statement to learn more about their concerns.

The controversy at Amherst College adds to the ongoing debate surrounding pro-Palestinian advocacy and censorship. It raises questions about freedom of speech on college campuses and the limits of academic discourse. The incident also highlights the importance of addressing sensitive political issues and fostering inclusive dialogue within educational institutions.

In another instance of alleged censorship, the student newspaper at Menlo-Atherton High School, The M-A Chronicle, sent a cease and desist letter to documentarian Eli Steele for using their videos in his documentary 'Killing America.' The film, which explores recent controversies in the Bay Area, including ethnic studies, honors classes, and anti-Semitism, was removed from YouTube and Vimeo. Steele claims that he used a two-second clip from an M-A Chronicle video under the Fair Use doctrine, but the newspaper argues that a significant portion of their video coverage and photos were used. The M-A Chronicle's decision to send the cease and desist letter was made independently of the school administration. Steele plans to take legal action against the censorship.

At Middlebury College, a lawsuit has been filed contesting the removal of the Mead name from the chapel. The lawsuit has now moved to the discovery phase, where each party must provide evidence and testimony. The process of removing the Mead name was conducted behind closed doors, without wide-ranging debate among students and alumni. The article questions the lack of transparency and fairness in the process. It explains that eugenics, which Mead supported, was once considered a progressive way to address public concerns about the mentally ill. However, the science has been discredited, and society is still grappling with how to help the mentally ill. The article argues that Mead's reputation has been unjustly besmirched and calls for the restoration of the Mead name to the chapel.

The controversy over pro-Palestinian advocacy in Melbourne schools, alleged censorship at Amherst College, student film removal from YouTube, and the lawsuit over the Mead name removal at Middlebury College highlight ongoing debates surrounding freedom of speech, censorship, and the role of education in addressing sensitive political issues. These incidents raise important questions about transparency, fairness, and inclusivity within educational institutions.

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