OIE finds government professor did not violate non-discrimination policy

Zach Lyons

After investigating complaints regarding an incident between government professor Ami Pedahzur and members of the Palestine Solidarity Committee that occurred in November, the Office for Inclusion and Equity found Pedahzur did not violate the University nondiscrimination policy.

Members of the PSC demonstrated at an event hosted by the Institute for Israel Studies on Nov. 13, while Pedahzur was speaking. In complaints made to the University, PSC members alleged Pedahzur violated the University’s nondiscrimination policy with his in-person response to the protest and in a subsequent post to his blog, where he allegedly called them “red flags” for terrorism. The OIE’s findings officially dismissed these complaints.

UT President Gregory Fenves stated his “strong support” of Pedahzur in a March 9 press release responding to the OIE’s findings. Fenves said he appreciates Pedahzur’s work and looks forward to his future contributions at UT.

Pedahzur’s legal counsel, Carly Gammill of the American Center for Law and Justice, said the investigation uncovered the truth about the incident.

“[Pedahzur] was hopeful that given the length of the investigation, that it would be thorough and that [exoneration] would be the outcome,” Gammill said. “So obviously he is pleased with that.”

Law student Mohammed Nabulsi, who took part in the PSC’s demonstration, said he disagrees with the OIE’s findings and that he’s concerned with Fenves’ statement, which made no mention of the PSC’s complaints about the professor’s online post.

“To us, what that indicates, especially to the Arab and Muslim community at UT, is that, ‘You guys are open targets, you can be subject to racist or inflammatory statements with no consequence,’” Nabulsi said.

Gammill said the University has policies for demonstrations and protests, and PSC members weren’t acting in accordance with those policies.

“Taking over an entire event, refusing to engage in dialogue — those are not part of that process,” Gammill said.

Nabulsi said the demonstration, like several the PSC had carried out previously, wasn’t intended to prevent dialogue.

“Our intention was one, two minutes and out,” Nabulsi said, “The event was supposed to go on.”

While Pedahzur isn’t teaching classes at UT this semester, Middle Eastern languages junior Radhika Shah, who took a class with Pedahzur last semester, said she didn’t see a difference in his classroom after the incident.

“I don’t think that it changed his teaching or anything,” Shah said.