The Conspiracy

YU student paper in danger after acknowledging existence of sex [Breaking]

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.

Updated: See our fully reported conclusion to this story.

18 Older Responses to “YU student paper in danger after acknowledging existence of sex [Breaking]”

  1. Evan Levine
    December 7, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    Misleading title to this story and you only cover one side. Most students of YU are kind of embarassed that the beacon ran the article, the rest are embarassed that they WILLINGLY took the article off the site. The Beacon was more at fault for this whole event then the school was. Feel free to shoot me an email if you want the FULL and honest story.

  2. DM
    December 7, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    I find it amazing that this news website is just as sensationalist as the article it self. I am not sure who is representing this newspaper, and who is being represented by it, but you must respect the fact that the YU community may have different values than you. To have a title with such an accusatory title without understanding the inner-workings of YU and the orthodox community is just poor journalism. The fact of the matter is that the Orthodox community (most of which is the YU community regardless of the different viewpoints) is represented by YU. Orthodoxy, unlike the rest of western culture values sexuality as a personal matter.
    Take for example this article. If the article has a message or a purpose, I imagine it had to do with the struggles of Orthodox students with sexuality and the Halachik (Jewish Law) guidelines which the Orthodox Judaism prescribes. This is a reality which every orthodox students needs to struggle with. Many of us who are in long term relationships deal with the prohibition that revolve around interactions with our significant other. Within our own community, I have found when that when I discussed these issues with my peers they have been supportive, given advice, and empthized. Does it mean that it needs to come out in a sensationalist column in a news paper? I do not believe so. It is disconcerting to me that this publication is unable to discern between its values and those of other communities.

  3. Caroline
    December 7, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

    If YU pulls this, it will be a huge disaster for them.
    I hope the students, whether orthodox or secular or somewhere inbetween, realize that YU is killing their freedom of speech. The fact that YU provides funding for this newspaper only exagerates whatever position they chose to take. And the world will know. The internet is watching, YU. Enjoy the sudden drop in admissions numbers and student diversity if you take this stance.
    You can’t remain stagnant in a diverse, changing, modern world, sorry.

  4. bukin86
    December 7, 2011 at 6:39 pm #

    DM – extremely well put! SUPER LIKE!!!

  5. DM
    December 7, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    Caroline,

    you are just as guilty of the criticism that I made above. Freedom of speech is a hackneyed and ubiquitous term, used as some sort of rally cry in the progressive liberal American community. There is a difference between freedom of speech and destructive speech. According to your logic the member of the Westboro baptist church have the right to picket outside the funerals of our fallen soldiers. I would venture to argue that it should be prohibited for them to have their demonstration because they are destructive. The use of censorship (which is a loaded term and one that has a negative undertone in the western world) needs to be implemented when it comes to maintain the integrity of a person and a community. Granted, there are time when the boundaries should be tested and pushed, but this should only happen if the purpose is worth it.

    I am not sure how familiar you are with the undergraduate community at YU but the majority (and not a simple majority) subscribes to orthodoxy in various forms. This is not Brandeis or any secular university with a significant Jewish population. It caters to the needs and values of the wider orthodox community. The internet can watch as much as it wants, and people such as you can try impose your values on our community as much as it wants, but what keeps the integrity of our community is our ability to sift through what the greater world has to offer and apply that which we deem appropriate to our lives. I assure you there will not be a sudden drop in admissions, nor will diversity be an issue. I can only speak for my self when I say that we do not choose to remain stagnant, we choose to maintain our integrity and our close relationship with our heritage.

    I would venture to guess that you believe in the value of tolerance. Tolerance does not mean acceptance, Tolerance is the ability to live in a society with a variety of value systems while respecting others, regardless of their stance on an issue or an opinion different from his own. a person of adheres to this value should be able to treat others as an equal with the same civil liberties. Such a mentality is one that emerges in a pluralistic society which shows concern for the basic rights and liberties of an individual rather than judging them based on whether they adhere to a certain dogma or belief. In such a society people are entitled to their opinions however, there needs to exist a common ground or purpose. The society must function like a Venn diagram, in that while there are competing values, but some overlap. . A tolerant person accepts the differences of opinion, and is able to respect the other regardless of that difference. That is, he accepts that there is a difference, though he may not accept and incorporate the variant belief or practice into his own value system. He accepts the notion of difference in return for having his civil liberties protected by the society. This is all done for the common good and in the name of coexistence.

    It is exactly your world view, the same one that suggests that a community with set values can not maintain its integrity if it chooses to interact with a modern world, the turns people to a fundamentalist approach to religion. I can for sure vouch for the phenomenon within the right wing orthodox world. I believe, and I don’t think I am only speaking for my self, that in order to maintain our integrity orthodoxy will always find it self at odds with the greater culture. It is becoming apparent as every day goes by and our world is becoming more and more secular. However, this doesn’t mean that community based on thousands of years of traditions should submit it self to pressure of the predominant culture. It should maintain its integrity.

  6. ML
    December 7, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    wow, well said DM.

  7. MG
    December 7, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    I would just like to point out an inaccuracy in the article above: The YU Commentator and YU Observer are also co-ed. Both allow for members of the opposite sex to be on their staff. It just happens that because the papers cater to, and are based out of, the respective campuses, they may seem more dominated by one sex.

    Editor’s note: The post was corrected to reflect this.

  8. Barbara
    December 8, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    I would also like to point out that Yeshiva University
    has another student publication, ‘The Associate,’ which is the business school’s newspaper. The paper has fair and equal representation of male/female categories.

    This article was inacurate in so many ways. Where’s your journalistic integrity?

  9. YH
    December 8, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    The comments were far superior than the actual article. DM nailed it out of the park, well said

  10. Harpo Jaeger
    December 8, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    @DM: Several courts have held that the WBC does in fact have the right to picket at funerals. I agree. Not because I agree in the slightest with their despicable message, but because giving the government the power to decide what speech should be permitted is a dangerous precedent, and not one to be taken lightly.

    And don’t go off on people here for “imposing their values” on your community. The Beacon is student-run – the article in question was written, edited, and published by YU students. You don’t have to agree with it, but you should recognize that their opinions are just as much a part of the community is yours.

  11. Rafi
    December 9, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    This blogger takes issue with your headline: http://curiousjew.blogspot.com/2011/12/yu-beacon-piece-on-sexuality.html

  12. ghj
    December 9, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    I’m a parent of a student who graduated from YU and an attorney.

    First, no one forced you or your parents to attend YU. My son could have attended NYU, Columbia, Maryland, or Princeton. I sent him to YU specifically because I did not want him in a typical university, where things like this would not be questioned.

    Second, I’m sorry to let you in on some legal realities. Freedom of speech does not mean that a private university has to pay, or allow its students to publish anything. You can start a newspaper or a blog, or go out on the street and say whatever you want. You do not have the right to force YU to pay for anything, or to keep you as a student if they have reasons that are not deemed discriminatory according to the law to expel you.

    If you don’t like the policies of YU, you have the right to:

    1) go to its financial supporters to get them to threaten to pull their contributions, or
    2) LEAVE! Go to another school that meets your needs.

    You might as well learn it now–Nobody owes you anything. Your employer will not pander to you unless you are so important to them that they will do anything to keep you. After you’re 18, your parents don’t have a legal obligation to pay your bills or to give you a place to sleep or food to eat. It’s a mean cruel world out there.

    You do have the right to not like what I have written–even though every word is true. Sometimes, reality sucks.

  13. Anonala
    December 9, 2011 at 4:49 pm #

    This article is extremely misleading.

    1. YU student papers such as the Beacon discuss sex on a regular basis — premarital sex less often but it has certainly been brought up. The author would know that if he had done a little bit of research prior to making such a false accusation.

    2. In fact, probably because sex has such a important and positive role in Jewish life, I see it brought up in YU publications more than in my secular university’s publications.

    3. The article was not censored. The student council deemed it inappropriate for a YU publication. Therefore there were two choices: either the Beacon takes down the article or the Beacon ceases to be officially supported by YU. Censorship is defined as “examining in order to suppress or delete anything considered objectionable.” No one was forced to delete the article and in fact the article was returned to the Beacon website.

    I’ve enjoyed some of the articles I’ve read on New Voices, but this one is extremely disappointing. An article like this reinforces the completely incorrect stereotype that Orthodox Jews consider it inappropriate to talk about sex. We don’t. We just want to treat the subject with respect and dignity it deserves.

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