Temple, as a diverse institute of higher learning, should be expected to create a safe and open environment for discussion and debate.
When the world experiences large-scale conflict, it is only natural that the political and cultural aspects of that conflict will be discussed in an academic environment. The current conflict in Gaza doesn’t just inspire debate – it requires it.
Administrators would be sorely remiss if they didn’t allow and encourage student organizations supporting both Israel and Palestine to exist and function. Thus far, such organizations are established on Main Campus and have actively campaigned on behalf of both countries.
However, students and the community at large must remember: the university protects all speech, but privileges none. Temple cannot provide special protections to any one group that seeks to have its voice heard – this would indicate bias, which the university must avoid.
Student organizations have freedom of speech. As adults, students should recognize the responsibility that accompanies that right. Just like any other action, spoken words have consequences. It is the responsibility of students to be mindful of their own actions and how they impact the safety of their environment.
The university, as an organization, is not at fault because Daniel Vessal was assaulted during Temple Fest. As reporters from The Temple News were present to witness, Temple police officers responded within moments of the altercation, along with Temple EMS personnel who followed shortly after. It was not a lack of precaution that caused Vessal to be struck.
In addition, Temple cannot be expected to guarantee that no further conflict occurs – the university can only remind its students of their own responsibility to treat each other civilly and continue to address individual situations when students do not do so.
The university is entrusted with establishing a safe environment for students of all backgrounds. Students should not forget that they, in turn, share in the duty to maintain the safety of that environment by interacting respectfully, since together they create the Temple community.