AMCHA’S Responses to Antisemitic Activity at Goucher College
1. President Bowen does not condemn the hateful, harmful and discriminatory actions of members of TALQ BIG who disrupted and sought to shut down a Jewish, Pro-Israel college-authorized event on November 5, 2015. President Bowen also does not admit that college officials mishandled this incident by allowing TALQ BIG members, who came to the event fully intending to shut it down, to disrupt that event and intimidate, bully and threaten those in attendance. Instead of removing the protestors, which was clearly warranted by their behavior, college officials unilaterally took action to stop the event altogether.
- INCIDENT: Prior to a November 5, 2015 event sponsored by Goucher Hillel and Gopher Israel featuring a screening of the documentary “Mom and Dad I Have Something to Tell You” and a talk by Israeli TV star Assi Azar about how parents cope with their children “coming out of the closet,” members of the Goucher student organization TALQ BIG sent an email to Hillel students threatening to “take immediate grassroots action for the event to be shut down.” During the November 5 event, approximately 15 members of TALQ BIG engaged in a pre-meditated and coordinated series of disruptive actions, which included brandishing anti-Israel posters, chanting anti-Israel slogans, and verbally disrupting and arguing with the speaker. According to Azar, “the protesters were trying to shut down all dialogue and were aggressive toward those students who were trying to have a calm, respectful discussion.” Although the Goucher administration was apprised of the intention of TALQ BIG members to shut down the event, these students were permitted by numerous college officials who were present at the event to enter the hall with posters in hand and were not ejected following any of their disruptive actions. However, when college officials “became concerned about the dynamic of the dialogue” during the Q&A, they decided to shut down the event without consulting the sponsoring organizations or the guest speaker. According to Azar and other eye-witnesses, Jewish students in attendance felt “threatened,” “targeted,” “under attack” and “bullied into silence.” Many students were afraid and distraught after the event, and several were reduced to tears.
- 11/19/15 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative coordinated a coalition letter of 36 organizations addressed to President Bowen stating, “We are 36 organizations deeply concerned about Jewish students at Goucher College following an incident in which their civil rights were violated and their sense of safety and well-being threatened. We are writing to urge you to address this matter in a forthright and vigorous manner.”
- 11/19/15 – UNIVERSITY’S RESPONSE: In a clear disregard for a large showing of concern, President Bowen responds with a template letter he had sent out to an activist previously regarding this issue, and does not note the suggestions the 36 organizations asked for.