In a B-Line News Addition on Wednesday, Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger rebuked anti-Semitic language from the Binghamton Review’s Nov. 18 issue and addressed student concerns by announcing the creation of a Violence, Abuse and Rape Crisis Center (VARCC) on campus.
These statements were made in response to a Student Association (SA) Congress meeting held on Dec. 1. During the meeting, numerous students gave public comment calling for the defunding of the Binghamton Review, among other statements.
According to Jacob Eckhaus, SA vice president for finance, SUNY SA member and a senior majoring in accounting, the SA has consulted with legal counsel. Eckhaus said he was informed by attorneys that defunding or de-chartering the Binghamton Review would be a violation of the SA constitution, due to the fact that the constitution guarantees freedom of speech and due process. Students are welcome to voice their opinions to the SA Financial Committee, which evaluates funding for SA-chartered organizations each year.
Stenger echoed Eckhaus’ sentiments and said the right to freedom of speech must be protected and encouraged.
“I, and my administration, strongly condemn racist and offensive acts of any kind,” Stenger wrote. “We stand firmly in support of the members of our University community after learning of the anti-Semitic language published in a student publication that makes light of the Holocaust. We are resolute in our support of these students and those of any race, faith, gender, sexual orientation, background or identity.”
During the SA meeting, a resolution, written by Eckhaus, was passed that formally condemned the Binghamton Review’s comment. According to the resolution, the Binghamton Review will be required to become better educated and run trainings on both Holocaust and modern anti-Semitism awareness either through a program of their choosing or by utilizing various campus resources, including the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee.
“This resolution condemns the Binghamton Review for [anti-Semitic] speech authored by its staff and asks the DEI committee to assess any potential proactive measures the SA or University could consider moving forward,” the resolution stated.
Hillel at Binghamton voiced disapproval of the Binghamton Review’s comment and is offering support for students.
“Hillel at Binghamton condemns the recent comment in the Binghamton Review that trivialized the Holocaust and the six million Jews who perished during the atrocity,” Hillel at Binghamton wrote in a statement. “This type of rhetoric has a devastating effect on Jewish students here at [BU]. This article brings to light an act of bullying wrongly disguised as harmless humor.”
The Women’s Student Union (WSU) is one of the organizations that called for the removal of the Binghamton Review’s charter. WSU said it stands in solidarity with those who have been discriminated against by the Binghamton Review.
“This behavior, and its inherent University support through the continued SA-chartered status of the [Binghamton] Review contributes to the lack of a safe learning environment experienced by many,” WSU wrote in a statement. “This University support is not surprising, as the University has a pattern of excusing and even celebrating anti-Semitism, i.e. the [Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science] named after Thomas Watson, the man responsible for giving IBM technology to Nazis for use in concentration camps and recipient of an award for his service by Adolf Hitler.”
The second issue Stenger addressed was regarding the establishment of VARCC. According to Stenger, a working group has been established to determine a location for a space, what services VARCC will provide and what staff will be located in the center.
“The University expects prevention educators, counselors, social workers, members of the [Consultation, Advocacy, Referral and Education (CARE)] Team and others across campus who provide supportive services to staff the center,” Stenger wrote. “Further, we anticipate offering space to the community-based Crime Victims Assistance Center (CVAC) to provide services as well. Our collective goal is to provide an easily accessible space where someone in need of help and support can seek assistance without visiting several campus offices.”
VARCC is expected to be open and operational in the spring.
VARCC was one of the numerous demands of the University made by the WSU during the SA Congress meeting. Other demands included the abolishment of Greek life at BU, the hiring of 16 new counselors trained and experienced in treating sexual and interpersonal violence, the establishment of a new sexual assault education program and the removal of various administrators, including current Title IX Coordinator, Andrew Baker, for negligence.
In a statement provided to the SA, the WSU expressed disapproval of the University’s new and current measures to combat sexual assault and advocate for alternative measures to be taken.
“We at [WSU] strive to create a safe environment on campus for women, femme students and other marginalized identities — but we cannot do it alone,” WSU wrote. “We implore those addressed to read our demands carefully and think critically about how their administrative actions impact students at [BU] and just how much violence they are willing to tolerate. We understand that these demands will take a lot of money and time, yet it is the administration’s duty to keep the students safe.”