Too many lectures on a Wednesday night

By Caroline Kessler

As I emerged from a coffee shop on Craig Street, a main thoroughfare for Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh students, I saw a crowd gathered outside the Hillel-Jewish University Center. I knew I would be a few minutes late to the lecture I was heading towards–Chuck Klosterman, author of Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, among other books and essays. I was attending because I was interested and for course credit–but I was also missing out on another lecture at the exact same time: Effi Eitam, an Israeli politician and a Brigadier General in the IDF. He was supposed to speak on nuclear Iran and the threat the country poses, but he quickly changed his agenda.

Why?

Because there were hoards of protestors lined up and down the narrow sidewalk outside Hillel, vocally protesting the talk. Although many events at Hillel have extra security posted, especially if there’s someone prominent attending, I was not expecting the verbal barrage that came. I moved quickly towards the protest, determining to push my way through and not respond to anyone. My reaction was quite visceral–pounding heart, clammy hands–and I didn’t even talk to any of the protestors. I wish circumstances would have let me, but I also wouldn’t have wanted to get into a screaming match with a member of Students for Justice in Palestine.

Later, I roved the Internet for more information. Luckily, the Pitt News covered the entire event here. Their article was well-written and the numerous comments posted afterwards are just as fascinating, although not as well-written. According to their article, the protestors inside the lecture were just as vocal as the ones outside. Now, this is not a new theme, by any means, but it raises new questions, as pointed out in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Who decides which speakers come to campus? Is Eitam a valid representation of Israeli sentiment and politics today?

Caroline Kessler, hailing from the not-so-charmed city of Baltimore, is an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University.

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