Some students living in the off-campus area weren’t greeted by the mailman or by the neighborhood squirrels when opening their front doors Thursday. They were instead greeted by a piece of paper saying they must move out immediately.
The words “EVICTION NOTICE” were written in bold across the tops of the fliers, which were taped to the front doors of some off-campus residences located between East 11th and Lane avenues. The flier went on to say that the building was scheduled for demolition in three days.
If the flier alarmed students, then it did the job its creators intended.
The flier was a mock eviction notice put out by the Committee for Justice in Palestine that was meant to raise awareness about Palestinian families who have been evicted from their homes after ongoing conflicts.
“Eviction notices are routinely given to Palestinian families living under the oppressive Israeli occupation for no reason other than their ethnic background; the goal is to make life so miserable for Palestinians that they leave. Forced evictions are arbitrary, racist, humiliating (and) violent,” the flier said further down.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is largely over land and religions and has been fought over for generations. Israel, Gaza and the West Bank were once called Palestine, but after a war in 1948, Palestine was divided and Jewish Israelis claimed some land for religious reasons.
Sami Idries, the president of CJP and a third-year in data analytics, said the organization put up about 700 eviction notices early Thursday morning.
Idries said there were two main reasons for the notices.
“We wanted to simulate what it feels like for the Palestinians to wake up and be kicked out of their homes, and we also wanted to tie it into the wall we set up here in the South Oval, to have people come here and promote discussion,” Idries said.
The group set up a mock Apartheid wall on the South Oval, which prompted discussions about Palestine-related issues.
An apartheid system racially segregates and politically and economically discriminates, like the former social system in South Africa, which separated those who were black or other another racial descent from white people.
There is a part-wall, part-fence, mostly located in the West Bank of Palestine, that the Israeli government made the decision to build in 2002. The government said the wall was necessary to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from entering the country, but because Palestinian land was confiscated to build it, many Palestinians have been separated from their land and jobs.
Off-campus residents had some mixed reactions about the mock evictions, however.
Hanah Ellsworth, a third-year in art management living on East 14th Avenue, said she was turned off by the notice because it said her building was to be demolished in three days.
“My roommate and I were somewhat bothered … not exactly mad but not happy that this was posted on our door,” she said. “We were more upset that it was fake. It was not a pleasant experience.”
Ellsworth said she didn’t know if CJP really got their message across because of the unsettling approach.
“I understand that they were trying to portray the way those families feel when they receive those notices but considering the freak out from my roommate, we weren’t too happy and were between mad and happy that it was fake,” she said.
Ellsworth also said she questioned the legality of it.
Dave Isaacs, spokesman for the Office of Student Life, said Ohio State has no control over what is put on doors off-campus. He noted that they do have policies about what can be put up in residence halls, but that the university has no power in that situation for off-campus.
Columbus Division of Police Sgt. Steven Knotts said off the top of his head, he couldn’t think of anything illegal about the fake eviction notices.
“It would be a stretch for illegal activity, maybe if somebody wanted to file a complaint for trespassing, but it would be a stretch. They couldn’t really push a criminal charge,” he said.
And it isn’t the first time the group has issued fake notices about evicting students from their residences.
During Spring Semester, CJP put about 2,000 mock eviction notices on some off-campus housing doors to further simulate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The OSU group also isn’t alone in their fake eviction efforts.
In April, the New York Daily News reported the same type of mock eviction notices being slipped under dorm rooms of up to 2,000 New York University students.
The NYU Students for Justice in Palestine took responsibility for the notices.
Mock evictions were also passed out at Northeastern University by the NU chapter of SJP in February.
As a result, the NU chapter of SJP was suspended until December by university administration for “vandalism of university property, distribution of flyers in residence halls without prior approval and disrupting the events of other student groups,” according to The Huntington News, the school’s student newspaper.