Rutgers SJP should be held accountable for policy violations
Letter to the Editor
Recent events on campus regarding mock eviction notices distributed by Students for Justice in Palestine have elicited several letters and opinions, most recently in a letter published in The Daily Targum by Ezra Sholom. These letters may leave an impression regarding Rutgers Hillel’s response that is both false and misleading and begs clarification.
Sholom’s letter asserts, “Rutgers SJP chapter has been facing extreme and biased treatment.” This is false and a complete misperception. Rutgers SJP knowingly and willfully broke University rules regarding distribution of materials in residence halls. The University agreed that rules were broken, took appropriate steps to educate SJP on Rutgers policies and issued a formal warning for their actions. Not only is this not extreme, it is normal procedure and protocol for any student group or organization that violates University rules.
Most objectionable is that he strongly implies that Rutgers Hillel is an opponent of free speech and has claimed that SJP is anti-Semitic. This is absolutely false. Their right to free speech has not been contested. As Hillel’s Senior Associate Director Rabbi Esther Reed stated in a letter last week, Rutgers Hillel does not view this as a free speech issue at all. Our issue is with the fact that SJP knowingly broke University rules and caused a number of students to feel bullied.
Sholom states that he has an obviously Jewish name and was not targeted, and therefore no Jewish student was targeted. While I am happy to hear that he does not feel he was targeted, that is not the case for all Jewish students. Several students who felt they were being singled out on their floor because they are Jewish approached Rutgers Hillel. To invalidate their feelings because one does not share them is a major fallacy in his thinking.
Sholom’s letter misrepresents the situation, paints Hillel as an opponent of free speech and dismisses the legitimate feelings of others. The fact remains that some students reported feeling targeted, and Hillel recommends they fill out a bias incident report. That is far from extreme. It is completely reasonable.
As a proud alumna of Rutgers and Director for the Center for Israel Engagement at Rutgers Hillel, I proudly uphold everyone’s right to free speech on campus. But violation of University policies must be addressed appropriately, as it was, and Hillel will always provide support to students who feel they have experienced bias because they are Jews.
Diana Diner is a 2005 Rutgers alumna and the Director of Israel Engagement at Rutgers Hillel.