One of the central demands repeated by protesters at campuses across the country has been for university administrators to trans One of the central demands repeated by protesters at campuses across the country has been for university administrators to transform campuses into “safe spaces,” where students are protected not only from physical violence but also from ideas that they find threatening or offensive. However, the “safe spaces” envisioned by these protesters seem to matter only when the interests of those who share their political persuasions are affected.
There has been conspicuously little attention paid to incidents of anti-Semitism reported, for example, at Hunter College, where students supportive of Israel were chased away from a rally blaming high tuition fees on “Zionist administrators,” and where protestors shouted “Zionists out of CUNY” (the City University of New York), by which they meant Jews.
At Vassar, Jewish students have repeatedly stated that they feel forced to self-censor pro-Israel views out of fear of retribution from peers and faculty alike. This year in a survey at Vassar, students responded that it was best not to advertise that you were Jewish on campus. At UC-Berkeley and the University of Texas, Jewish students have been frightened by shouts of “Long live the Intifada.” The Intifada they were referencing involved the stabbing of Jews.
Where are the cries for safe spaces for Jewish students faced with such blatant intimidation?
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Let’s be clear: All students should be made to feel physically safe on campus. They should also be protected from verbal abuse. Colleges should attempt to foster an inclusive and tolerant environment that allows individuals of varied backgrounds to feel comfortable discussing a wide range of intellectual, social and political topics.
As such, school administrators should condemn racist incidents, such as those that occurred at the University of Missouri. They should address allegations of anti-Semitic abuse at places like CUNY and Vassar with equal seriousness.