At the University of Chicago Hillel the students aren’t the rebellious ones. The Jewish federation of Chicago fired the professional head of the U. Chicago Hillel along with its entire board on March 30, the Forward reports (written by former New Voices editor Josh Nathan-Kazis).
There’s a whole lot of weird in this story:
What is this dispute about? The Hillel folks were agitating for independence from the federation, but the federation accused them of mismanaging their finances. Meanwhile, it’s unclear why the federation forced Hillel to make certain contracts for services like janitorial and maintenance, which the deposed Hillel leadership says contributed to their financial woes.
The Chicago federation “owns” all of the Hillels in Illinois: We know of no other examples of such an arrangement between a federation and a local Hillel chapter, most of which are independent organizations with ties to the broader Hillel network.
Where are the students in all this? As the Forward reported, students “say their concerns are getting lost in the institutional crossfire”:
“It absolutely feels like a hostile takeover,” said Stephen Lurie, a University of Chicago junior who has been active in the Hillel. “There’s been no transparency about a decision that really affects us.”
The article notes that students have had “informal meetings” since the shakeup:
Lurie said student representatives might be elected at that meeting to represent student interests in talks with Hillel and Libenson’s new group.
“Students are really just trying to find the best way to deal with any side in terms of getting their interests met,” Lurie said.
Might be elected? If student leadership goes un-consulted on this, the train will have truly gone off the rails. But why does new student leadership need to be elected for this? Where is the elected student leadership of this Hillel in all this?
It’s not clear whether either or the two “adult” sides in this are really on the side of the students.