An online student newspaper at a Jewish university in New York reportedly lost its funding after it refused to remove or alter an article that describes - in detail – an account of a young, Orthodox woman’s one-night stand.
According to Fox News, the article – published Monday by The Beacon – bothered university officials and members of the student council at Yeshiva University, causing them to threaten to cut funds should the editors refuse to change or axe the piece.
The Beacon's co-editors-in-chief met Wednesday with three school administrators as well as the president and secretary of the student council, in an attempt to resolve the issue, said the report.
When the two parties failed to reach a common ground, the newspaper's editors reportedly decided to cut ties with the university. “They were offering compromises and we didn’t want to make those compromises,” explained Co-Editor Simi Lampert, according to Fox News. “We then said we didn’t want to be an official publication of YU.”
According to the report, this meant The Beacon was no longer eligible for the university's funding, which amounted to reimbursements of up to $500 per semester.
The controversy provoked a campus-wide debate on censorship, and led Lampert's co-editor, Toviah Moldwin, to announce his resignation Friday.
The featured article, entitled How Do I Even Begin To Explain This, details the events of a 20-year-old Orthodox woman’s one-night stand in Manhattan.
“Between the fumbling, the pain, the pleasure, I convince myself that I’ve learned how to make love,” says the young woman in the article, who describes herself as an “Occasionally-Cute-Modern-Orthodox-Girl” who for one night became a “Sexually-Appealing-Secular-Woman”.
While depicting feelings of lust, courage and dare, the protagonist’s message is clear: it wasn’t worth it. “The only thing I learn is how to do the walk of shame the day after,” writes the anonymous author.
When the article was uploaded to The Beacon’s Facebook page, it attracted thousands of hits within hours and spurred a heated debate. One student described the account as “graphic”, comparing it to a controversial article on a murderer.
Others said that whether the article was fiction or non-fiction, it sent an important message: that young Orthodox Jews have no one to turn to in times of need. “Could we really turn to our Rabbis, our "friends", or parents if we had this problem? The hurtful and nasty comments that people are posting are part of the reason that people feel like they can't reach out to anyone”, writes one Yeshiva University student.
According to Fox News, Matt Yaniv, associate director of media relations at Yeshiva University, denied that the school pulled funding from the newspaper.
“The Beacon received their funding from the school’s student government, who allocates funds to all student clubs,” he wrote to FoxNews.com. “After posting an article that made many students uncomfortable, the student council president approached The Beacon editors on behalf of the students, asking them to take it down.
“After an amicable discussion between the two sides, The Beacon decided to part ways and become an independent publication,” said the report.
The Beacon's website posted a statement notifying readers of the change: “In light of recent developments, YU and The Beacon have agreed to separate,” read a note posted on the magazine website’s homepage. “Over the next few days, we will update the site to reflect these changes. The Beacon will continue to publish as always.”
On Friday, the website also posted a letter from Moldwin explaining the motivation for his resignation.
“The publicity surrounding this incident was a result I neither desired nor anticipated, and I fear that some of this publicity may have put YU in a negative light. I have thus become uncomfortable remaining at the forefront of The Beacon, though I still firmly believe in The Beacon’s mission of promoting dialogue within the university community”, Moldwin wrote.
Modlwin also said “The Beacon is a necessary forum for student self-expression and discussion between people with different viewpoints,” adding that it decided to part ways from the university when it felt that this mission could no longer be accomplished as a university-sponsored publication.
Yeshiva University is a New-York based institution, which bases its ideals on Torah Umadda – “a branch of modern Orthodox Judaism that acknowledges the merit of both religious and secular studies, a difficult line to walk for some students,” said the Daily Mail in a report on the matter.
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