[GVCP] NY State Senate is Targeting Student Activism with anti-BDS (but even broader), anti-free speech bill

June 12, 2016
Dear GVCP members,

This is important stuff, but it isn’t easy to know what to do to oppose this truly terrible legislation.

We can’t contact the student groups—they’re on summer break.

I’d like to suggest to people that they call/write their NYS senator.  Many of our members live in Sen. Gallivan’s district (59) but not all.

The NYS Senate website is <https://www.nysenate.gov>  It’s tedious to find your senator.  The website is definitely not user-friendly.  However, it’s worthwhile to persevere.  “Message” your senator and tell him/her that S8017 is unwarranted government interference in students’ lives.  The NYS Senate has no right to tell students what they may or may not advocate, as long as it’s not violent overthrow of the government.  Students organizations have every right to do all those things that S8017 tells them they can’t do!  Let your NYS senator hear your voice.


Arnie Matlin for GVCP

[From Kate Alexander of PANYS]

The NY State Senate is considering legislation (attached) that would make many of our SUNY student chapters ineligible for funding from their universities. Under Senate Bill S8017, student groups would be ineligible for funding from student fees if they do any activities that promote, encourage or permit the boycott of an “allied nation”. Boycott is defined as:

“to engage in any activity, or to promote or encourage others to engage in any activity, that will result in any person abstaining from commercial, social or political relations, with any allied nation, or companies based in an allied nation or in territories controlled by an allied nation, with the intent to penalize, inflict, cause harm to or otherwise promote or cast disrepute upon, such allied nation, its people, or its commercial products.”

Under this law, and its definition of “allied nation”, student groups would be ineligible for funding from a SUNY school if they did any public education to criticize the practice(s) of any of the following countries – or of any corporation operation in any of the following 56 countries:

Albania, Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, the United Kingdom or Uruguay.

I called the office of Senator Martin, who introduced this legislation, and spoke with his LD to confirm this interpretation of the legislation, and it’s all confirmed. This bill would have SWEEPING impacts on our student work. Under this legislation, these types of campaigns would make a SUNY Peace Action chapter ineligible for school funding

*   Refugee awareness campaigns that discuss how refugees are discriminated against/poorly treated by allied European nations
*   Support for the BDS movement/criticism of Israel
*   Fair Trade/Free Trade campaigns
*   Campaigns against child/forced labor products
*   Media freedom campaigns/events that criticize any allied nation (including notorious nations like Italy re: media freedom)
*   Opposition to imprisoning/excessive violence against political dissidents, as practiced in any allied nation (common in: Argentina, Albania, Thailand, and many other nations)
*   Protests/public education events against violence against women that criticize any allied nation
*   Indigenous persons education events that discuss human rights violations by allied nations (common in: Canada, Australia, New Zealand)
*   Calling attention to the rejection of rights of ethnic minorities in allied nations (common in: Dominican Republic, France, and many other nations)
*   Public education around public health reasons to not travel to allied nations (i.e. Zika virus in South American allied nations)
*   Basically: Any campaign that casts a negative light on ANY practice – past, present or future – of an “allied nation”, as defined in this legislation.

I think this legislation will pass the Senate but get lost in the Assembly. Even so, we need to make a strong stand. A statement of support for student organizing would go a long way with our students & would be great in outreach materials.



Kate Alexander
Director of Policy and Outreach
Peace Action New York State
Peace Action Fund of New York State

Office:  (646) 723-1749
Cell: (520) 205-2344

pdf icon S8017.pdf

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