posted 2011-04-06 13:00:47

Hunter Administration Responds to Tension on Campus

Hunter Administration Responds to Tension on Campus

Conversation Café to create avenue for open dialogue

Dan Seminara

Staff Writer

The Hunter administration has decided to take action in response to growing tension between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli forces on campus.

The recurring defacement of Hillel and Resist and Multiply posters is one factor playing into the mounting friction. Hunter Hillel and Resist and Multiply are student organizations on opposite sides of the Palestine-Israel discussion. They participated in a debate with each other last fall.

In The Envoy’s reporting of last semester’s controversy, Resist and Multiply member Hiro Bush emphasized that, “this is a college campus where freedom of expression is supposed to be encouraged. It boggles my mind that somebody would behave like this in a place for learning.”

Amanda B. Nable, Hillel’s Director of Engagement, underscored the desire for constructive debate on this topic.

“We really value free speech here at Hillel, we value different opinions, but we would like to see that done civilly at events and not the editorialization of flyers in the hallway.”

She emphasized, “people are opposing the viewpoints being expressed; I want them to come to the events… instead of just defacing flyers.”

Enter Conversation Café, the Hunter administration’s newest effort at addressing the conflict.

The Conversation Café is the brainchild of John T. Rose, Dean of Diversity for Hunter College. The idea was proposed at a retreat sponsored by Student Affairs. During this time, Dean Rose and club leaders identified the need for an avenue for open dialogue on campus.

“The Conversation Café will be a means for civil discourse on campus particularly as relates to students from different backgrounds--cultural, racial, ethnic, gender identity, and religious, among others. The Conversation Café has emerged as a way to explore this discussion,” Dean Rose’s office said in a statement.

“The Conversation Café will be a discussion of what is unique to Hunter as a community and our values as a whole. There will also be examination of how Hunter is similar to other institutions that promote the value of open discourse.”

Students in attendance will also break into groups to discuss how to explore issues of open dialogue. The groups will then share their results and determine if a full consensus can be reached.

The Conversation Cafe is scheduled for Friday, April 15 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. in the Sylvia Fishman Student Center (W417.) Lunch will be served, and interested students can RSVP to ltracy@hunter.cuny.edu.