The images we have seen from Israel and Gaza in the last three weeks should hurt every single student on this campus. This has been particularly shocking to those of Palestinian or Jewish descent. Many American organizations have issued statements regarding the conflict, including universities.
However, in a world where Harvard students are being publically doxxed for being Pro-Palestine and their University’s President faces backlash for saying that it sounds bad when Israel promises to open the “gates of hell” onto Gaza, you can’t fault Fairfield for not wanting to throw its own hat in the ring with its own statement. And it shouldn’t, either. Fairfield University as an institution has no authority to speak on this topic, or most other global crises.
The Israel-Palestine conflict is one that started over a century ago. I won’t try to give you a history of the conflict, as it is so controversial and complex that I have no right to tell anyone what I think about it. Neither does Fairfield University.
Since the issue is so controversial, and many Muslim and Jewish students are passionately pro-Palestine or pro-Israel, it would be a poor public relations choice for the University as an institution to issue a statement of support to either side.
The only thing Fairfield can do is issue a statement of condolences, which does nothing to help anyone in the crisis itself. What Gaza needs is substantial aid that Israel is blocking, especially fuel, and frankly, they don’t care what any American university thinks about the situation in Gaza.
Whilst this does affect Jewish and Muslim students on a larger scale, there is no statement that Fairfield could issue that could substantially help anyone. Fairfield continually advertises their counseling services, regardless of world news, and this conflict is simply too far removed from the University for any statement to be relevant to most students.
The internet has caused a strange social phenomenon where it seems that everyone has a need to share what they think on every topic and hear what everyone else thinks on topics publicly. The truth is, Fairfield University has truly nothing to do with what is happening in the Middle East, and it’s frankly strange that anyone would want to hear what the administration has to say on Israeli-Palestinian geopolitics.
FUSA sent out a statement via email to all Fairfield University students on Oct. 13 regarding the current situation in Israel-Palestine. They specifically mention the rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes in the email, writing, “anti-semitisim, discrimination and hate are agendas […] will never be tolerated,” and offering a Shabbat service the same day, however, they mention nothing specifically towards anti-muslim hate crimes or Palestinian students separate from the pain that Israeli and Jewish students are feeling.
This is surprising only because of the magnitude of horror that those in Gaza are currently facing. At the time the email was sent out, Israel had inflicted devastating airstrikes against the Gaza Strip and cut the area off from all resources.
According to the UN, this retaliation from Israel has amounted to a “war crime,” but Hamas kidnapping hostages is also considered a war crime, which goes to show there truly is no side that everyone can and does support. So for FUSA—an organization that is supposed to represent the entirety of campus—to issue a statement largely aimed towards Jewish students is frankly problematic, considering how divisive the conflict is.
The University Administration and other university organizations that are supposed to represent the entirety of the campus community should not address contentious global conflicts.