It’s fair to say that Temple has benefited mightily from marketing itself based on its diversity. For the most part, this is a deserved reputation. Temple indeed is a place where different people with different sets of beliefs are encouraged to interact freely.
It is precisely this longstanding legacy of diversity that makes stories like the one reported by John Moritz on P. 1 so surprisingly unfortunate.
When Sharon Litwinoff discovered that the date of her graduation ceremony fell on the final day of Shavout, she knew that this would present a huge conflict in her ability to attend the event. She began contacting people she hoped would be able to help, only to find her cries fall on deaf ears. Eventually, she was presented with a few options, but all essentially came down to shuffling her around to some other ceremony rather than any effort on the part of the university to accommodate.
The Temple News understands that it’s impossible to please everyone’s schedules. No matter what date the university decided on, there would undoubtedly be some people who would prefer another. But while we may empathize somewhat with the university, the choice of a date that threatens to alienate such a large portion of the student body, which Phil Nordlinger, director of Hillel at Temple, estimates at 1,600 students – regardless of any stated blindness to religious holidays – certainly raises an eyebrow.
What is more difficult to comprehend is the seeming lack of any real effort on the part of the university to remedy the situation. Litwinoff said she has been the recipient of several emails from university officials expounding on their sympathies and, after months, was able to secure a meeting. But she said she believes those efforts were halfhearted at best.
If the university has not been able to convey with enough conviction how understanding it is for any feelings of isolation or negligence it has created – at least in the eyes of Litwinoff – then it has not been able to stand by its commitment to diversity successfully.
One student feeling that his or her firmly held beliefs were ignored by Temple is one student too many.