On 08 February a news story in the Badger Herald at University of Wisconsin-Madison tells us that the campus Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity threw a party/fundraiser on 04 December where there were intoxicated monitors, poor crowd control, lewd behavior, drunkenness, and sexual acts in the public restrooms—in short, a lively event.
Complaints were registered against the Greeks. AEPi President Jeff Herscott said the party was a philanthropic event, which raised $2,010 to go toward the Jewish charity organization B’nai B’rith International. In the comments that followed the story the issue of “coasties” was introduced. I had never heard the term. It took a moment to understand that coasties are students at U Wisconsin who are not locals, but come from the East and West coasts where the largest Jewish populations live.
On 10 February the Badger Herald published a letter to the editor by Lori M. Berquam, Dean of Students at UW, calling attention to the fact that “anti-Semitism and hate speech are unacceptable and inconsistent with the values of our community. I suspect some of those commenting were engaged in a misguided attempt to be amusing or outrageous by making references to ‘Lori Berquam’s final solution’ or suggesting that a fraternity house ‘should be turned into an oven….In the future, I would ask everyone engaging in these online exchanges, both in the Herald or elsewhere, to remember our shared commitment to discourse that is both open and respectful.”
On 15 February the Badger Herald published a letter from Greg Steinberge, Executive Director, UW campus Hillel. He wrote in part: “References to the Holocaust, to the final solution and to ovens are dangerous and cannot be tolerated. We must not forget that in very recent history this hateful language was accompanied by the murder of Jews, gays, lesbians, the Roman people and other minorities throughout Europe — the genocide of nearly 10 million people. Hateful language was tolerated by many bystanders who stood idle, either too timid, lazy, or full of disbelief to act….We here at the UW Hillel see ourselves as a place on campus that welcomes debate, even conflict of opinions or divergent views in the Jewish community and in the wider campus community. We are a place of discourse, as is the larger UW campus community, even when people disagree — and even when it is painful.
We welcome Dean Berquam’s commitment to a “shared commitment to discourse that is both open and respectful.”
We welcome Hillel Executive Director Greg Steinberge’s view that the UW Hillel sees UW as a “place of discourse, as is the larger UW campus community, even when people disagree — and even when it is painful.”
On 18 February CODOH placed a small text link in the online edition of the Badger Herald that reads:
The Holocaust Question:
THE POWER OF TABOO
The full three lines are the link. It is in the left-hand column of every page of each issue of the Badger Herald for the next 30 days.