Op-Ed, Opinion

OP-ED: BU Hillel encourages respectful dialogue

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.

4 Comments

  1. These facts are incorrect. I, among others, were asked to leave way before one person was being disruptive. His disruption was in response to being asked to leave by the police officer. It is appalling that BU Hillel would try to misconstrue the facts to justify removing me and others from the event.

    If you see the video recording of what happened, one of the organizers of the event, in response to our question about whether we were being disruptive, says, “No, but when the event would start, how are we supposed to know?” The evidence is right there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TkhWHXnolWY

    • 1. Hillel is private property not owned by the University, so even if it was not a private event, Hillel administration would still have every right to have anyone escorted out for whatever reason they deem worthy.
      2. It was a private event, and the event organizers are the ones that had the group of students removed, not Hillel administration (only at a point when they were trying to accommodate the group that was hosting the event).

      So to clarify, it isn’t a BU facility, and it wasn’t a public function, the event organizers had the group removed (not Hillel administration) and they had every right to have anyone leave for any reason they deemed necessary.

      These are facts that you can’t dispute. As to the nature of the removal of the students, well I guess that’s up to interpretation because you don’t have any real proof it was racially biased, and I don’t have any real proof that it wasn’t (well aside from a few pictures).

      • And since when have “private facilities” had their own official page on bu.edu? Give me a break.

      • 1) Hillel is not private property. The BU Hillel building is owned by the university. Any administrator will confirm this. Dean Elmore has said this to me multiple times.

        2) If it was a private event, it certainly was not advertised as such and I don’t understand why this wasn’t given as a reason for our removal to begin with (seems like the decision to call this event private was made only after we were asked to leave). The event was advertised as open to all students and even a student who had RSVP’d was kicked out because of supposed associations with the original group of students that was kicked out. Also, even though the event organizers kicked us out, David Raphael and other Hillel staff were there approving of what happened and agreeing with the removal. BU Hillel is just as complicit in this.

        And finally, the proof is in the video. As I repeat in my comment above, in response to us asking him if we were being disruptive, one of the organizers said in the video, “No, but when the event would start, how are we supposed to know?”. This PROVES that he had no reason to kick us out other than what he *thought* or *assumed* we might do. That is called profiling.