The Gender Neutral Bathrooms Initiative is a project to address the lack of gender neutral bathrooms in Vassar’s academic and administrative buildings. In order to ensure that all students have a place where they feel safe using the bathroom, we want to make sure that there is at least one accessible gender neutral bathroom in each academic and administrative building. Currently, there are 13 buildings on campus have no gender neutral bathroom option. The goal is not to turn every bathroom gender neutral, but make sure that everybody has a choice in each building.This effort, however, is inadequate to a student group identifying as the Vassar Queer Health Initiative, which has opened a drive to compel that all bathrooms on campus be "all-gender." The effort was announced in Boilerplate magazine, Taking Vassar's “LGBT Friendliness” To Task: The Case for All Gender Bathrooms:
Before I give my brief remarks, I would like to request that you silence your devices you brought with you so as not to disrupt the conversation with Professor Puar is conducting with us today. I would also like to request on her behalf and on behalf of the rest of the assembly that you refrain from recording this evening’s proceedings, in the spirit of congeniality and mutual respect, though it is not against the law, to record someone vocation professional labor without informing them, it is quite unseemly and violates the modest contract of trust essential to the exchange of ideas.Requesting non-recording of an open, public event on the pretext that non-recording is "essential to the exchange of ideas" is odd.
The Israeli Independence Day raises politically sensitive questions given that it just so happens to represent the 1948 Palestinian Exodus, also known as the "Nakba". This is a day of extreme tragedy and traumatic loss for millions of people, including many students here at MIT. As Palestinians and supporters of Palestine in the MIT community, we are alarmed by the fact that the UA are endorsing this event, given that the UA represents us as well. We feel unsafe in an environment that celebrates a catastrophic day for one nation at an official school-wide capacity by a body that represents all students equally, with no regards or sympathy towards our tragedy. We direct this message to the entirety of the student body with a request for change. We request the UA to detach the carnival from SpringFest, and to refrain from sponsoring and/or publicizing it at a school-wide capacity.Palestine@MIT, promoting a narrative of victimhood, suggested that the celebration of Israel's independence threatened their community standing.
"Concerned Vassar students gathered in the Chapel on a rainy Nov. 12 to protest the U.N. resolution condemning Zionism as racism. Chaplain George Williamson, Jewish Chaplain Derry Baker, Professor Benruy Kraut and two prominent Jewish community leaders, Rabbis Arnold and Zimmet spoke at the student organized rally."It took thirty years, but what if I told you today that this same college community now views Zionism as the most insidious form of racism. Would it seem Orwellian? Two student groups, Students for Justice in Palestine and JStreetU, were formed last fall. Both liberal, SJP rallies against a two state solution while JStreetU claims to endorse one. At a glance they might seem different, but they share a lot in common when it comes to condemning attempts by me and my group to counter anti-Israel propaganda on campus. In December 2013, the American Studies Association released a resolution boycotting Israel. Reminiscent of students in 1975, the Vassar administration swiftly rejected this resolution right after New Years 2014. Soon-after the Vassar Jewish Union (VJU) became an Open Hillel, which means they welcome anti-Israel speakers. Thirty-nine Vassar faculty then wrote a letter condemning Vassar College's decision. Students for Justice in Palestine proceeded to swoop down on pro-Israel and neutral students. They protested a class taking a trip to Israel inside an academic building and intimidated the professors. At a Vassar Open forum I attended in May 2014 shortly before graduation, Vassar College President Catharine Hill made clear that she never has condemned the picketing of the class, and any impressions otherwise are wrong: Following complaints about the picketing of the classroom, the Vassar Committee on Inclusion and Excellence organized an open forum led by Professor Kiese Laymon that de facto established any criticism of SJP was motivated by racism, civility was a "cardboard notion," and taking a trip to Israel was the equivalent of organizing an outing to Jim Crow Mississippi. Not surprisingly, the only acceptable thing to say on campus became the lie that Israel is a racist, apartheid state. In order to show the humanity of the perceived Israeli monster, I began innocuously posting images from the Facebook page “Humans of Tel Aviv” in a Vassar student group Facebook page, to show that Israeli cities are cosmopolitan, socially liberal places that resemble Vassar in some ways. This provoked a leader of SJP to tell me “the devil has enough advocates.” Weeds often grow in abandoned fields. Looking back, the first sign of weeds was an "Apartheid Wall" that sprang up in the College Center. This is a common BDS tactic which all follow a similar formula in demonizing the Israeli state. [caption id="attachment_82985" align="alignnone" width="640"] (Mock "Apartheid Wall" at Vassar College 2014)[/caption] I walked up to SJP and told them that I was raised in a Muslim family. They loosened up immediately and seemed eager to welcome me into their hate. There are not a lot of Arab and Middle Eastern students on campus. I remembered that a friend had told me about the Wall of Truth, pro-Israel murals that sometimes counters the apartheid walls.
Pro-Israel student leader at Vassar was warned: "Remember the devil has enough advocates"...
... Faculty members have joined the depravity. Thirty-nine professors protested after [Vassar President Catharine] Hill properly said in January that Vassar would not join the American Studies Association’s anti-Semitism-tinged call for boycotting Israeli universities. The 39 backed the boycott, with some asserting that Hill’s action “silenced discourse on campus,” as one put it. Duh, they claim they want dialogue while supporting a boycott against dialogue. Then it turned out that the 39 lacked the courage of their convictions. When Cornell University Law School professor Bill Jacobson challenged the entire group to debate the merits of boycotting Israel, they all ducked. So on May 5, Jacobson spoke — without fee — on campus at the invitation of the Vassar Conservative Libertarian Union, which is headed by a Muslim student. The libertarian union had sought co-sponsorships for Jacobson’s talk from numerous student groups and academic departments. All refused, a fact that demonstrates how strongly anti-Israel sentiment holds sway at Vassar, perhaps inducing a climate of fear among those who feel otherwise.
I graduated from Vassar two years ago and I am a proud left winger, but I just can't be down with the Students for Justice in Palestine group at my alma mater. The group is full of filthy anti-Semites, who are spectacularly ignorant about everything from Nazi propaganda to Israel's defense of itself..... At Vassar, even for me, the unhinged left wingers could be too much.... Vassar has become a reactionary, ignorant, illiberal place full of unlettered bigots. No longer will I aid those values with donations.The Vassar Conservative-Libertarian Union (VCLU), which sponsored my speech at Vassar, decided that it was time to protest before students left campus for the summer. VCLU erected a Wall of Truth to counter the many defamatory and false allegations made against Israel. [caption id="attachment_86233" align="alignnone" width="547"] (Wall of Truth at Vassar College, May 2014, feat. Alec Ferretti and Julian Hassan)[/caption] The Wall of Truth specifically was placed in the same location that Vassar SJP puts its misnomered "Apartheid Wall" during Israeli Apartheid Week:
Demands SJP "cease representing itself as an official Vassar group, pending these investigations"...
There was a time when people looking for intellectual debate turned away from politics to the university. Political backrooms bred slogans and bagmen; universities fostered educated discussion. But when students in the 1960s began occupying university property like the thugs of regimes America was fighting abroad, the venues gradually reversed. Open debate is now protected only in the polity: In universities, muggers prevail....
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