Updated at 3:42 p.m. — New Voices has now re-published the censored article in its entirety.
At 5:00 p.m. today, Simi Lampert and Toviah Moldwin, co-founders and co-editors-in-chief of the YU Beacon will sit down with four Yeshiva University administrators who they fear will threaten to pull the Beacon’s funding. The meeting was called in response to an anonymously written article about a sexual encounter published by the Beacon.
Lampert, who also blogs for New Voices, told me, “I suspect that they’re going to tell us why they don’t approve of the article, why they can’t have it associated with YU, and that if we don’t take it down then they’re going to take away our funding.”
The article has already been taken down from the Beacon’s website and replaced with a note from Lampert and Moldwin. “This article has been temporarily taken down at the request of the YU administration on behalf of the student body. We at the Beacon will do our utmost to ensure that the Beacon remains censorship-free, to protect students’ freedom of speech and to ensure that their voices are heard,” it says before noting, “commenting is still available to you.”
The YU Beacon is one of three newspapers at Yeshiva University. The other two are the Commentator and the Observer, which both have print editions. The Commentator serves the entire university, while the Observer covers YU’s Stern College for Women. But the Beacon, founded last January as an online-only publication, is co-ed, written by students from both campuses and regularly features subject matter that is considered too racy or controversial for either of its competitors.
The article, titled “How Do I Even Begin To Explain This?” is written in the first person and details the sexual encounter of a female Orthodox Jewish college student with her male lover in a hotel. In its first two days online, Lampert said, it attracted 5,000 hits and hundreds of comments through the Beacon’s integrated Facebook commenting system.
It has even been parodied by Frum Satire, a humor blog that is well known in the Orthodox community.
Stern Student Council President Dena Shayne met with Beacon staff members last night and told them that YU administrators had asked that the article be taken down , Lampert said that the Beacon agreed to take the article down temporarily. The Beacon asked to meet with administrators to discuss the situation. Administrators responded by asking that the article be at least temporarily removed until the meeting “as a sign of good faith,” according to Lampert.
The article was published in the Beacon’s “Written Word” section, which includes both fiction and non-fiction pieces. Material in this section, Lampert said, “is about the writing itself.”
The Beacon has published several anonymous articles before. “We’ve had a bunch of anonymous piece in the past. We don’t have an issue with that. When we have less sensitive topics, we don’t allow it, but if it’s a sensitive topic, we’d rather have it anonymous than not at all,” Lampert said. She added, “If it wasn’t anonymous, something like this would never get spoken about at all at Stern.”
New Voices will continue to cover this story as it develops.
Corrections: This post originally implied that administrators considered removal of the article from the Beacon’s website to be a precondition for meeting with the editors of the Beacon. It also stated that the Commentator has an all-male staff, and that the Observer has an all female-staff.