Regarding “‘Hostile Environment’ For John Jay Jewish Students” (Oct. 17): At John Jay College, we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and respectful community of students, staff and scholars, dedicated to our mission of “educating for justice.” So I am deeply troubled, both personally and professionally, by recent reports that Jewish students at John Jay College have felt intimidated and harassed on our campus.
These instances on our campus occurred at a time when other parts of our country, and countries in Europe, are witnessing a rise in anti-Semitism. Universities are often a focal point for organizing activities that have fueled these trends. At John Jay, we believe that our campus can demonstrate that respectful engagement and an educated understanding of the larger global and historical forces can prevail.
Let me emphasize strongly and clearly — John Jay College does not tolerate any derogatory or hateful behavior towards any individual or group in our campus community. At the same time, the College is an educational institution that encourages free and open discussion of all topics, and we expect that these discussions will respect the dignity and opinions of those with opposing viewpoints.
Recently, there have been a series of incidents that have created tensions among three student groups, the Hillel Club, the United Nations Student Association and the Students for Justice in Palestine. Faculty and staff are working closely with the students to reduce the tensions that surfaced and to promote dialogue among the different student club members.
It is critically important that all students feel safe and are not subjected to harassment or hostility. I will be meeting with all three student groups to listen carefully to their concerns and ideas and ensure that these student groups can work together respectfully, as they have in the past.
At John Jay College, we stand firm in our commitment to ensuring that every member of our College community feels welcome and engaged in our justice-centered mission. Together, we will continue to make certain that our students can learn and enjoy campus life in a respectful and supportive environment.
President, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY