Friday, February 13, 2009

Profiles in Cowardice-The University of Rochester

Cross-posted by Gary Fouse

University of Rochester President Joel Seligman

University of Rochester Dean of Students Matthew Burns

I have seen a lot of cases of universities caving into radical students' demands, but this latest news from the University of Rochester takes the cake. As you know, the fighting in Gaza has sparked a lot of protests on and off college campuses. In this latest incident, it turns out that at the University of Rochester, the inmates run the institution.

On February 6, A bunch of students along with their "supporters from the community" (translation: the usual local riff-raff who love to join any protest) occupied Goergen Hall as part of a sit-in to protest "the violence in Gaza". Guess who organized the sit-in- the Students For a Democratic Society (are they still around?)

The administration allowed the protesters to reserve the hall for 11 hours (1pm-midnight). Then after about 9 hours of protest, Dean of Students Matthew Burns agreed to meet and NEGOTIATE with the students. NEGOTIATE!!

It gets better. Burns said in a statement that, "There are a bunch of administrators that are strongly in favor of free speech." (whatever that means). He continued, "We need more dialogue and we need more education." (whatever that means). "There are some unanswered questions out there" (whatever that means)and, "this is a point of education for our students." (whatever that means).

So SDS and their motley crew of about 75 protesters set forth 4 demands:

1 UR adopt a "UR-Peaceful Investing Initiative" that would encourage divestment from businesses that manufacture weapons and profit from war-specifically weapons that are used to "maintain a 41-year-occupation of Palestinian territories".

2 UR conduct a day of fundraising for humanitarian aid to Gaza sometime within the next two weeks.

3 UR must help restore education in Gaza including aid to Gaza University.

4 Provide 5 scholarships to Palestinian students.

So after Dean Burns negotiated with the students, he went back to where the other university administrators were hiding under their desks, talked with them for a while, returned to the students and signed an agreement by which the university agreed that night to:

1 Hold a public forum to discuss UR's financial policies, as well as its investments in Israel and with companies that do business with Israel.

2 They also agreed to support a campus-wide fund drive for "Palestine", donate surplus supplies to Gaza and award international student scholarships to Palestinians.

After caving in to the students' demands, Dean Burns was then, presumably, allowed to go home to his wife and family. It was not reported if the other administrators sneaked back to their cars or hid in their offices all night.

“This was a fairly volatile topic,” Burns said. “Some of the demands provided we agreed were impractical. What we need more than anything else is clarification with our students and student groups.”

Students and "citizens" marched through the campus afterwards, screaming their usual chants and declaring victory (as well they should have).

“We’ve already started the movement,” said Dean Burns, “We have to keep discussion going. We aren’t at any decision point yet.”

This is it, folks. This is what is going on at our university campuses. The people we pay to run these institutions hide under their desks and cower while students take over the campus, make demands, and get what they want. What kind of respect for authority does this instill in our young people? Either they are cowards-or they are radicals themselves. Take your pick.

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