The University has suspended Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers—New Brunswick (SJP), citing multiple infractions of the University Code of Student Conduct, according to a statement from a University spokesperson.
"The policies grant the authority to suspend a student organization's activities when the University determines that there is a reasonable basis to conclude that the continued activities by the student organization pose a substantial and immediate threat to the safety and well-being of others, or the suspension of organizational activities is needed to maintain preservation of the University," the statement read.
On Wednesday, SJP issued a statement about the suspension, in which the organization said it was not given any opportunity to address any alleged breaches of conduct. Moreover, the statement read that the organization and its advisors were not directly informed of the suspension. Instead, the organization was alerted about it when members of the press reached out for comment.
"The timing of our suspension announced amidst censorship of our social media platforms, and the inundation of media scrutiny during finals week is more than coincidental," SJP's statement read.
The University's statement points to several incidents involving SJP leading up to the suspension, including disruptions to study environments, events, classes and a demonstration at Rutgers Business School on Livingston campus.
The University letter issuing the suspension to SJP indicates that the organization has two working days to appeal its case, according to NorthJersey.com.
SJP held an event at the school on November 29, according to a separate post from the organization's Instagram account. The post referred to the group's presence as an "occupation" and tagged unaffiliated on-campus student groups, including the Rutgers Arab Cultural Club, the Rutgers University Students For Environmental Awareness and Rutgers Queer and Asian.
The organization's suspension occurred the same day that Return on Information-New Jersey (ROI-NJ) reported that Rutgers Business School faculty and other notable members of the local business community expressed alarm at the incident on November 29.
The article alleges that students interrupted classrooms, and Rutgers Business School faculty feared the demonstration could have escalated into aggression.
ROI-NJ further reported that various groups affiliated with Rutgers Business School were upset at the University's lackluster response.
On Tuesday, Rutgers—New Brunswick Chancellor Francine Conway sent out an email detailing disciplinary procedures for disruptions on campus, specifically referencing on-campus demonstrations in the wake of the ongoing Israel-Hamas War.
The email follows a separate message sent by the Office of the Chancellor last Thursday titled "Campus Climate, Rutgers—New Brunswick Community Response," in which the Chancellor acknowledged tensions and reports of antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus.
In the same email, Conway called on the Rutgers community to remain empathetic toward themselves and each other before outlining steps that the University's administration would be taking to address these concerns to promote security, inclusivity and responsibility.
"I have also made clear — and want to reiterate — my commitment to fostering a campus environment that is safe, inclusive and open to a free exchange of ideas and viewpoints, including ones with which we may strongly disagree," she said in the email sent on December 7.
Some of the actions Conway said the University would be pursuing include facilitating advisory boards with the ability to address bias on campus, increasing access to the University's anti-discrimination guidelines and modifying the University's event planning processes to account for more efficient communication and community protections.
In her latest email on Tuesday, Conway further discussed these initiatives and said the aforementioned advisory boards would comprise Jewish and Muslim members of student and professional communities. She also announced the creation of a task force that will analyze and address the coherence of Rutgers' procedures.
Conway further said that while Rutgers remains a space where its community members can express themselves and their beliefs, forms of speech that threaten the welfare of other individuals and the University as a whole cannot stand.
Individuals can be penalized for infringing standards set forth in the University Code of Student Conduct and the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, Conway said. Student organizations can face repercussions under the standards set forth by the Rutgers Student Affairs Code of Conduct for Student Organizations. Within this explanation, she specifically referred to expulsion as a potential penalty.
Collectively, people who are caught breaching these policies can be punished independently of their organizations, Conway said. She highlighted the demonstration at Rutgers Business School as an extension of this explanation, saying that both individual students and a singular student-run organization have been charged with undisclosed conduct violations.
The email does not indicate that other student organizations tagged in SJP's Instagram post about the demonstration at Rutgers Business School have been suspended or are facing disciplinary measures.
"When our community is safe, our students, faculty and staff can focus on fulfilling their most ambitious goals and academic pursuits," Conway said.
Editor's note: This article has been updated to include Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers—New Brunswick (SJP) 's statement regarding its suspension.