A Clear Message to DU’s Administration

Dear Hillel of Colorado Friends and Supporters:

In my May 10th blog, I explained that a pro-Palestinian tent encampment was set up on the DU commons in front of the University of Denver library. Still largely peaceful, the encampment has grown to 25+ tents, and some demonstrators’ rhetoric has moved from anti-Israel to antisemitic. University Chancellor Jeremy Haefner, who has been a strong partner to our DU Hillel community, issued some strongly worded statements that set clear limits: a community-wide email on May 9th included the University’s Interim Policy on Demonstrations, Protest, and Free Expression and referenced DU’s Discrimination and Harassment Policy, Face Coverings Policy, and Speaker and Public Events Policy.

Almost a week later, demonstrators that include a large percentage of non-students have not complied with DU security’s orders to show student ids and remove facemasks. Today Chancellor Haefner told me his goal remains to assure that only DU students are allowed in the permitted encampment and that the DU honor code other DU policies are followed, including those barring harassment, hate speech or antisemitism.

The Merage & Allon Hillel Center at DU has been home-away-from-home for 409 DU undergraduates and their friends and allies this academic year, and the facility also serves as our statewide headquarters. Along with DU Chabad and DU’s Center for Judaic Studies, we provide a united Jewish support system all students may access. Our Hillel is clear that students have a right to protest peacefully – free speech is bedrock in our American Jewish experience – but they do not have the right to intimidate, threaten, or ignore policy. In these confusing, troubling, and defining times for our young adults, Hillel’s top priority will always be to keep Jewish students safe: to explore and learn, to question and dialogue openly with peers and mentors, to grow into the Jewish leaders they are becoming. What is happening now on DU’s campus makes that task exponentially more difficult.

We demand Chancellor Haefner, the University, and appropriate authorities immediately make good on the chancellor’s promises by removing outside elements from university grounds, holding students who participate in antisemitic acts accountable to consequences including suspension or expulsion, and returning our campus to what it is intended to be. Keep our Jewish students and all students safe, and partner with Hillel as you have in the past to stop antisemitism in its tracks at the University of Denver. Stand with us now.


Daniel W. Bennett

Executive Director

Hillel of Colorado


Leave a Reply