Does Rutgers have a right to cancel a pro-Palestinian conference?

The 3rd North American conference of the Palestinian Solidarity Movement is supposed to be held on Oct 10-12 this year at Rutgers University. Today it was cancelled by Rutgers officials. They claim that organizers missed deadlines, presumably required for such a meeting, a charge that organizers say is ludicrous.

The cancellation comes on the same day that the new Rutgers President is to appear at a dinner organized by the local Hillel chapter, which is supporting a pro-Israel counterconference the same weekend.

The pro-Palestinian conference: http://www.divestmentconference.com
The pro-Israeli conference: http://www.israelinspires.org

This is fishy, to say the very least. Universities are supposed to be a bastion of free speech, right? The PSM organizers certainly think so, and you can read their press release here : http://www.divestmentconference.com/news.html

I’m pro-Palestinian, but would fire off an email to the Rutgers officials (I’m about to do so) protesting for the right to free speech even if I was not. What do you think?

Assuming that the university really did stop the protest for political, rather than administrative, reasons:
Although many people would like universities to give everyone the floor, it’s just doesn’t work that way. Rutgers is a private university and the Supreme Court has upheld the right of universities to limit speech.

U.S. Government, Richard Remy
This is hardly the first time such a situation has occurred. In fact, I think it’s been debated on the boards before.

Also, the Pro-Palestinian group seems to go beyond just supporting Palestinians; they appear to engage in anti-Israeli rhetoric:

Seeing as how other univerisities try to prevent pro-Israeli groups from assemblying, I fail to see how this is any different. It would be nice if everyone on campus could speak freely on anything, even if it was a biased view (and so long as everyone agreed to conduct themselves in a manner befitting a rational discussion), but the laws just don’t work out that way.

If it’s on Rutgers property, and they didn’t comply with their deadline, then Rutgers has the right to cancel it.

How are you defining “private”?
Rutgers is one of the nation’s major state universities. Chartered in 1766, it has a unique history as a colonial college, a land-grant institution, and a state university.

Everyone has a right to free speech. That does not mean that a forum must be provided for you.

  1. Rutgers is not a private school. Like tomndebb said.
  2. I don’t think you can say from those cases that SCOTUS has upheld the right of universities to limit free speech. Both cases you cite involved local school districts. There is the case from Virginia (Board of Regents v…I can’t remember) from a few years ago that seemed to establish that universities may not make content based decisions on free speach. I think it is pretty well established that local schools have more power than universities in this area. Having said all that, if you miss the deadline, you shouldn’t be surprised to see your conference canceled.

Hello?!? It’s anti-Israeli in the same way that anyone who called for the release of Nelson Mandela before, say, 1985 engaged in anti-South African rhetoric. I suggest you look at the aims of the pro-Palestinian group instead of dismissing them outright. They are calling for an end to certain Israeli policies, not the end of the state of Israel.

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Seeing as how other univerisities try to prevent pro-Israeli groups from assemblying, I fail to see how this is any different.
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You are right - it’s not. I’m arguing that anyone who would protest such actions at those other universities (incidentally, which ones? I’m curious.) should protest this action, and vice versa.

** It would be nice if everyone on campus could speak freely on anything, even if it was a biased view (and so long as everyone agreed to conduct themselves in a manner befitting a rational discussion), but the laws just don’t work out that way. **
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As others have pointed out, the university is a state institution. So what laws, exactly, do you mean?

Do they have the right to do it: yes
Should they have done it: no

Basically they should of let them done it as to be in definitive support of any free speech. It could ultimately come back to bite them in the ass if people start judging them for it.

This is the salient point that most people who cry “free speech!” and “free press!” fail to see.

I have the right to walk around downtown and say “Down with <insert your favorite villain here>!” and as long as I’m not endangering others, preventing them from exercising their own freedoms, etc., I have the right to do so. I also have the right to print a publication espousing any viewpoint I wish (avoiding libel, of course) and to sell or distribute it.

However: NO ONE is required to give or sell me time on the radio or TV, NO ONE is required to let me speak in their auditorium, and NO ONE is required to print my letters to the editor. Nor, as the owner of my newspaper, am I required to print opinions with which I disagree. I may be as slanted and one-sided as I wish.

Someone will probably note the good and common practice of providing “equal time” in the broadcast media during campaigns and officially-sponsored debates. This laudable practice does not carry over into every expression of opinion in every forum.

You are correct, but you are ignoring the “public forum” rule that applies to gov’t entities. Once the gov’t has created such a forum (and I’m not saying Rutgers has done so) they may not discriminate as to who may use that forum. So, it isn’t quite as simple as you make it sound, there may be situations where the gov’t is required to allow you to use their auditorium.

True. I was mostly responding to the general misunderstanding that anybody has to let you use their forum as a platform.

So MLS, those who have the most money is entitled to the most speech, right?

I’m not MLS, btut if I may…Entitled? Where was it written that anyone was entitled to speech? If what you mean is that people with more money will be able to spread their ideas, all other things being equal, more than those without I think the point is so obvious as to not warrant discusison.