Mills shows support for anti-hate proposals
Recently, the New York Times published a full-page advertisement of a statement from more than 300 College Presidents, including Bowdoin President Barry Mills, who signed a statement directly opposing anti-Semitism. The statement, issued by the American Jewish Committee, was released as a call for "intimidation-free" campuses in response to recent threats made against Jewish students around the country.
However declining to sign were 11 presidents opposed to the one-sided nature of the statement and its inability to recognize threats made against Muslim and Arab students. Among those that protested was James Wright, President of Dartmouth College who, through a spokesman, said that there is "no place for discrimination of any kind" at Dartmouth, yet believed that the statement opposing only anti-Semitism was exclusive in nature. Similarly, Don M. Randel, President of the University of Chicago stated that, "We are all virulently opposed to anti-Semitism, [but] some of what is going on is that that very proper sentiment is being politicized."
In explaining his support, President Mills stated that, "Bowdoin isn't portraying or saying anything different than what it has already stood for by me signing the statement. The College has always been and continues to be against intimidation of any kind." President Mills elaborated that he wasn't worried in this case about "political correctness," instead wishing to focus more on the abolishment of intimidation of any kind on any campus. "Because anytime that we can show solidarity against intimidation of any kind with other college campuses we ought to do that," he said.
Former Dartmouth President James O. Freedman drafted the original statement in August in response to several incidents that have occurred around the country. For example, in May pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian student groups clashed on the campus of San Francisco State University. President Mills commended Bowdoin for its "healthy level of discourse," highlighting the diverse political debate that "happens in the classroom, in the public forum, and between student to student [yet always] in a respectful way." "Differences can lead to unpleasant discussions, but unpleasant discussions aren't bad as long as they occur in a respectful way. While on campus today there is more of a willingness to hear more divergent views than ever, and I think that is excellent," Mills continued.
Nawaf Al Rasheed, a junior from Saudi Arabia felt that the anti-Semitism statement was unnecessary. "What is a paper to accomplish; it seems redundant as schools should have their own established sentiments against racism anyway?" he said.