Students meet with Hirshman regarding ‘terrorist’ fliers

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Students meet with Hirshman regarding ‘terrorist’ fliers

by Jamie Ballard, News Editor

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After a protest last week regarding President Elliot Hirshman’s failure to condemn anti-BDS fliers on campus, students met with him this morning to discuss what will happen next.

Osama Alkhawaja and Rachel Beck were two of the students who met with Hirshman, his administration and Associated Students President Jamie Miller. They reported that in the meeting, which lasted several hours, they were able to share their concerns. Despite the meeting, Alkhawaja and Beck both reported that they were not entirely satisfied, and feel the issue is far from over.
“I feel absolutely betrayed by my university,” Beck said. “I pay $30,000 to go here, and they haven’t defended me from these accusations that I am a terrorist.”
“The thing that I don’t understand is, why is it so hard for you to come out and make a statement saying that your students aren’t terrorists?” Alkhawaja said. “The university continues to defend free speech, but this is hate speech.”
Alkhawaja reported that the university said they’re not willing to condemn the posters and say that they were hate speech or intimidation.
The university released a statement shortly after the meeting. It read in part:
“During our time together we had a full discussion, both agreeing and disagreeing on various issues. We agree it is critical to protect all members of our University Community from harassment as specified in our University Senate policies. We agree we are committed to the safety of all members of our community. We also agree on the fundamental importance of freedom of expression.Creating the appropriate balance between freedom of expression and protecting members of our community from harassment, as in the current case where students were named individually on a flyer posted on our campus, poses a significant challenge.  The parties have agreed that in collaboration with AS and under the aegis of the University Senate, they will undertake a review of university policies to ensure we are balancing freedom of expression and protection from harassment.We concluded by agreeing that in cases where racism, islamophobia, misogyny, homophobia and all forms of bigotry result, we abhor the content of such expressions, even as we recognize the protected status of these expressions. Finally, we re-affirm our commitment to supporting an environment that fosters meaningful dialogue and mutual respect.”
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