With the ongoing Israel-Hamas War, emotional tension continues to rise within the Rowan University community. Universities nationwide, such as Harvard, have put out statements about the conflict. It is the opinion of The Whit Staff that Rowan—and all universities—should avoid putting out public statements about which side of the war they support because it is a multilayered issue that should be handled with an analytic lens.
On Oct. 10, there was an extra edition of Rowan Announcer that read, “Promoting a sense of global citizenship and responsibility.” The statement that was signed by President Ali Houshmand detailed what was happening thousands of miles away and what Rowan had to say about it.
Although The Whit can’t independently verify, the Rowan Announcer was arguably neutral in its tone.
“We are half a world away. Even so, our multicultural and multinational community is touched by the ripple effects of such atrocities. We offer our heartfelt sympathy for our friends, family members and colleagues impacted by this unfolding tragedy and we condemn these terrible acts,” read the Rowan Announcer. “Sadly, war and terrorism anywhere remain constant threats to humanity and progress. That’s one of the many reasons why institutions of higher education like ours must promote peace and a sense of global citizenship and responsibility,” the following paragraph read.
Afterward, there was information about programs on campus—such as The Rowan Center for Study of the Holocaust, Genocide & Human Rights (RCHGHR), and the Hollybush Institute for Global Peace & Security—that were there for students who needed support.
Unlike Harvard’s initial response to the war, Rowan’s response was not emotionally charged.
Nine days after the first initial response Rowan sent out, another followed.
“Rowan University is here to support everyone in our community who is hurting as a result of the escalating violence in Israel and Palestine. We know that many members of our University feel helpless to intervene, to make sense of conflicting narratives, to even know what to say to one another. Like us, you may be experiencing feelings of anger, sadness and fear. If you or your loved ones are in peril or affected in any way, we want you to know that you do not hurt alone. We stand with our community. If you are affected in any way, we are holding you in our hearts. May Rowan University stand together as one against violence and hatred. May we listen to one another and regard others with compassion—and with hope for peace,” read the Rowan Announcer.
Universities should strive for neutral public statements about the Israel-Hamas War because war is complicated and not what it seems on the surface. Addressing the complexities and difficult-to-pin issues is what promotes change.
The conflict between the Palestinian people and Israel has been happening for decades. There are generations worth of trauma, violence, and wrongdoing between the two. No matter how one feels about the situation, we can all agree that it’s exceptionally complicated and nuanced.
Since Rowan is a public institution with a lot of influence, it is the responsibility of officials to govern this train of thought and motivate its students to think critically as well.
With that said, it is also important to mention that Rowan—along with universities nationwide—does not have to take a stance on every worldly affair. Although this point may seem counterintuitive to some, it is not the purview of the university to promote a certain political agenda. Rowan is only responsible for promoting healthy spaces for education.
The Whit Staff believes that Rowan should continue their stance of neutrality. Terrorism, violence, and the killing of innocent lives are what is wrong. War is a political game with only a few beneficiaries, leaving the rest to suffer.
Rowan has handled this situation well by staying neutral, which encourages the community to think critically about the crisis rather than taking the easy route and choosing a side.
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