Following the week's upheaval at Ohio University, which began with the Student Senate President's "Blood Bucket Challenge," defaming Israel, and culminated in the arrest of four Jewish students, Hillel International President and CEO, Eric Fingerhut, sent the following letter to Ohio University President, Rod McDavis.
Dear President McDavis:
I write to share publicly what I shared with you by phone yesterday regarding the arrest of four Ohio University students who were peacefully protesting the disgraceful behavior of their elected student senate leader.
I was pleased to learn from you of efforts by your Vice President for Student Affairs to work with responsible student leaders and our Hillel Director, Rabbi Danielle Leshaw, to restore civility to the debate on campus. However, that important step cannot erase the wrongful events of Wednesday evening, which I hope you will address urgently and publicly.
I know you as a strong and compassionate leader dedicated to the welfare of the university, and I know Ohio University to be a proud and welcoming place for academic and political discussion. As a result, I cannot understand how the university administration could have possibly allowed the university police to arrest these students. These students were not a threat to public order or to the public safety. How could the university administration have failed to intervene when these students were taken to the police station by university police and actually booked and charged with criminal conduct? Any university policy that placed the power to order those arrests in the hands of a single student, who was herself directly involved in the controversy is wrong and must be changed. These students are owed an apology from the university.
I have taken a deep interest in your campus for many years, and I know many members of your community personally. I fully support Hillel's professional leader on campus, Rabbi Leshaw, and the students who have protested the way one elected student leader has chosen to divide the community, misrepresent her mandate, and draw negative attention to the university. I urge you to personally take charge of the university's response to the arrest of the students, and to see that this wrong is made right. My colleagues at Hillel International are ready to be of assistance in any way to Rabbi Leshaw, our students, and your administration.