Op-Eds do not reflect the editorial opinion of The Daily Free Press. They are solely the opinion of the author.
The Hillel Student Board prides itself on candor. In that spirit, we would like to clearly lay out the events that transpired on Jan. 28 at The Florence and Chafetz Hillel House at Boston University, where a private, non-BU affiliated event took place. For those of you who are unaware, BU Hillel rents out the space within our building to various organizations so that they may hold events. This is an agreement that BU Hillel has had with the university for years. Therefore, while events may take place in the Hillel building, not all of these events are BU Hillel events or even BU-contributed events. With that said, we would like to state the facts of what happened:
On Jan. 28, a non-BU affiliated organization had a private event in the Hillel second floor lounge entitled, “All Students, All Israel Think Tank.” The event was publicized on Facebook, which drew the attention of students on campus. As students on the guest list arrived, others, some of whom were not originally scheduled to attend, joined as well. Before entering the room, explicit language and aggressive behavior was directed at a Hillel staff member who was attending this event by a Boston University student. This inappropriate behavior is what encouraged the event coordinator to alert a police officer scheduled to be at the event. The first officer who arrived was not able to verbally provide valid justification for the removing of the students in question when asked. It seems that following this lack of explanation, they did not feel it was necessary for them to leave. A second officer arrived, followed by Assistant Dean of Students John Battaglino and additional Hillel staff, to try to resolve the conflict. The second officer proceeded to state clearly that they were asked to leave because they were disruptive to the scheduled programming. Dean Battaglino explained to the students that as a private event, the organization leading the programming had the right to request the removal of disruptive individuals. He then proceeded to ask them again to follow the organization’s request and leave respectfully. At this point, they left.
We would like to remind the BU student population that BU Hillel is an inclusive and pluralistic group that encourages dialogue and diversity within the BU community. On that note, political discourse happens regularly within the Hillel building, and individuals with differing opinions are encouraged to debate in a civil and constructive manner. We do not, however, tolerate any obscene language or aggressive behavior during these discussions. The conflict that occurred on Jan. 28 stemmed from a difference of opinions, in which the students who were asked to leave came to a pro-Israel event as anti-Israel activists and acted in an outwardly antagonistic manner. The events that occurred had nothing to do with racial or religious backgrounds. Boston University Hillel does not condone aggressive or intimidating behavior or the recent hostility occurring on social media regarding differences of opinion. In the future, we ask that all students who attend events in the Hillel building do so in a respectful manner, as they would in any other building on campus.
Hillel thrives on the diversity of our community. Howard Thurman said it best: “Community cannot for long feed on itself; it can only flourish with the coming of others from beyond, their unknown and undiscovered brothers.” Hillel has always been, and will continue to be, an open and welcoming place for all members of the BU community. We encourage students at Boston University to stay informed and open-minded, to have their own experiences with and form their own opinions of Boston University Hillel.
BU Hillel Eboard (Erin Miller, Hannah Weisman, Morgan Weiss and Zohar Baruch), [email protected]
A previous version of this op-ed attributed the op-ed to only Hannah Weisman rather than the BU Hillel Eboard. This correction is reflected in the op-ed above.