Jodi Dean, a professor of political science at Hobart and Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, has been suspended for affirming the Palestinian right to self-defence in a blog. Once again, the First Amendment seems not to apply when it comes to Palestine and expressions of opposition to its oppression. Here is a report from The Herald, the students’ college newspaper:


On Saturday, Colleges President Mark Gearan sent a campus wide email announcing that Professor Jodi Dean had been suspended from teaching pending an investigation into a blog post she made. Dean, a scholar of political theory, made the post on the website of Verso, the publisher of several of her books. The post, Palestine speaks for everyonewas described on the website as:

Against those who would separate good and bad Palestinians resisting occupation and onslaught, Jodi Dean writes in defense of the radical universal emancipation embodied in the Palestinian cause.


In his message to the campus, Gearan noted that Dean’s post described the image of the paragliders on October 7 as exhilarating, and said that “Not only am I in complete disagreement with Professor Dean, I find her comments repugnant, condemn them unequivocally, and want to make clear that these are her personal views and not those of our institution.” and that “I deeply regret that as a result of Professor Dean’s comments, there now may be students on our campus who feel threatened in or outside of the classroom.”

Gearan’s email was followed by a separate message of support from the Committee on Faculty sent by the chair, Professor Sigrid Carle, saying that the committee “ supported the procedure being initiated because of concerns about the creation of a hostile campus climate and the safety of our students.”

Professor of Politics Paul Passavant sent a campus wide email criticizing the decision to discipline Dean. Citing statements of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) which are incorporated into the faculty handbook, Passavant said that the Colleges’ decisions “violate Professor Dean’s rights as a faculty member of HWS, chill the exercise of academic freedoms of all faculty and students, and damage the integrity of HWS as an academic institution.”

In a post to her X (formerly Twitter) page, Professor Dean wrote that “McCarthyism is real. I’ve been relieved of teaching responsibilities. Don’t stop talking about Palestine.”

This suspension is part of an ongoing discussion on academic freedom. Conflict over what speech is acceptable from students and professors have been thrust into the national eye after October 7th. At Colleges and Universities across the U.S., professors and administrators have faced criticism, been disciplined or forced to resign over perceived hateful speech or inadequate responses to that speech. Pressure from campus communities, alumni and donors, and online critics can pile up quickly. Passavant criticized the possibility that Gearan was acting at “the behest” of a trustee or donor, and suggested that the Colleges have “surrendered to the internet trolls”.