We Should All Be Offended

In an academic community, how people choose to express their thoughts is as important as what they actually have to say. Academic discourse at the University of Chicago should not end with the mere coexistence of different perspectives, but ought to reflect an atmosphere in which a healthy, productive, and intellectual exchange of ideas is possible.

The swastikas drawn on the posters for the upcoming Chicago Friends of Israel event is not a completely new experience for the University. For three years running, the same organization has faced a similar response to publicity of its activities on campus—posters involving Israel Week and other annual events have been defiled, stolen, turned upside down, and burnt. This poor attempt at communicating disagreement with a political perspective seriously is not the kind of discussion this University seeks to promote.

The administration’s response remains undefined as of now, but at the very least they must take serious notice of the problem, and know that in this case, it is not an isolated incident. A dialogue between administrators and concerned students has already begun, and the administration should make sure to understand the seriousness of these incidents and their ramifications.

It is also crucial, now more than ever, for students and all members of the University community to ensure that a voice expressed is not a voice disrespected. The posters in Ex Libris were defiled within three hours after they were put up, during a time of heavy traffic. If we witness this kind of harmful and insulting response to a certain perspective, it is critical that we say something and report on it. We are by no means advocating an atmosphere of paranoia, but rather making a call for community members to take an active role in preserving the University’s healthy environment and free exchange of ideas. True and honest inquiry can only flourish on this campus when it is protected by a vigilant commitment to respecting difference.