Rhetoric demands respect from all sides
Discussions concering Getraer’s comments must maintain humanity
Over the past few weeks, members of the University have discussed statements and Tweets related to Rutgers Hillel Director Andrew Getraer. While he is not a Rutgers employee, Getraer is a campus leader whose words and actions affect a vast percentage of the Rutgers population. As a leader and director of an organization that claims to represent the Jewish community, he has a following that takes his words seriously and uses them as tools to foster open discussion. The debate has played out across campus as well as on social media, with members of the community using #RUAgainstHate to call attention to the issue. Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Felicia McGinty engaged in the Internet discussion by responding, “@RutgersU is committed to a free exchange of ideas in an environment of mutual respect. I support all students. #RUAgainstHate.” McGinty’s Tweets are indeed conducive to furthering the discussion, but because Rutgers is a self-proclaimed university of immense diversity and global reach, students have a variety of broad opinions and concerns. Therefore, it would be reassuring to the entire community if the Rutgers administration came forward as a unit, acknowledging the importance of continued dialogue and respect for all viewpoints.
While individuals on all sides of the issue have readily voiced their concerns and opinions, when a potent discussion such as this arises, it is important to take a few steps back and examine the debate from an outsider’s prospective. Many of the individuals involved in the dialogue are deeply engaged in the situation, so much so that individuals are being addressed as institutions, causing the respect for human dignity to quickly fade. Freedom of speech is an important and sacred right that comes with great responsibility. As an immensely diverse and passionate community, Rutgers is home to individuals who believe wholeheartedly in varying religious, spiritual and philosophical notions. In that respect, there can be varied versions of the truth. Each individual’s upbringing, their environment and learned practices have led him or her to believe what they call “the truth” on an individual level. Such viewpoints are then multiplied and institutionalized, forming different versions of the truth for each party involved. However, when it comes to discussion concerning an issue that has been a traditional source of contention, how disagreement is expressed is almost more important than what is actually being said. Respect should be at the forefront of any conversation addressing someone with an opposing viewpoint — regardless of what point of view is being espoused.
Not everyone can agree on what is hateful language and what can be considered hate speech. Everyone has a different set of beliefs, morals and values that guide them toward making the distinction between what is appropriate and what crosses the line of intolerability. There are those who believe that Getraer’s statements are true and those who do not. As spirited individuals, each and every interaction is a chance to learn, grow and form dynamic points of view.
Members of the Rutgers community are always welcome to voice their opinions and concerns in The Daily Targum as this is a place for discourse. We encourage the submission of commentary pieces and letters to the editor that address concerns with the University at large and its community members. The editorial board continuously works to consider all sides of an issue, ensuring that each piece is treated with the highest regard and published with an even hand. This is not the first time that an issue such as this has been heavily debated amongst University members, and it will certainly not be the last. Going forward, it may be best to remember that many of the parties involved in a situation are human beings that act and feel out of passion because they have a personal stake in the issue. Addressing each other with a heightened sense of humanity and caution will prove to be the most rewarding course of action.