State, City Pols Join Fray,
College Says ‘No Way’
College Says ‘No Way’
BROOKLYN — The controversy about alleged anti-Semitism at Brooklyn College heated up yesterday as a group of 20 state senators, assembly members and council members joined Assemblyman Dov Hikind in calling for an investigation.
A letter sent yesterday to City University of New York (CUNY) Chancellor Matthew Goldstein was signed by such locally familiar names as Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, Assemblyman William Colton, Councilman Brad Lander and Councilman Mathieu Eugene, among others. It read, in part:
“As elected officials representing a diverse constituency throughout New York City — perhaps the most diverse city in America — we are shocked that this outrage has been allowed to continue. Numerous accusations have been voiced regarding Provost [William] Tramontano’s racial, anti-female and blatantly illegal actions, yet there has remained a lack of a cogent, meaningful response from your office.”
However, Jeremy Thompson, director of marketing and communication for Brooklyn College, told the Eagle the charges are basically a group of unrelated incidents and contain misstatements of fact.
“We are a large, extremely diverse institution and have many Jewish members of our faculty, many of which are Orthodox. The provost is not someone who has any sort of anti-Semitic stance, and he is very protective of everyone’s rights,” said Thompson.
At the heart of the controversy are charges by Hikind that Tramontano has denied promotions and blocked the hiring of Jewish women.
According to the New York Post, Hikind, in his original statement, cited several cases. In one, Professor Frimette Kass-Shraibman applied for a full professorship, but was denied. In another, the Business Department selected Miriam Gerstein as the most qualified for a professorship, but the college rejected her appointment. She was later hired on appeal.
Tramontano allegedly told Business Department Chairman Robert Bell, “You already have a Miriam” when pressed about her appointment, according to the Post.
In a third incident named by Hikind, Dov Fisher was rated the best of three finalists for a business-teaching position, but he was not hired.
Thompson answered that in the case of Fisher, the director of diversity and equal opportunity found that proper search policies were not followed, so none of the three candidates were hired and a new search was conducted.
In the case of Kass-Shraibman, said Thompson, the vote of the selection committee, consisting of the chairs of all the school’s departments, was divided. The president made the decision, not the provost.
“More importantly, the professor did submit a complaint,” Thompson said. “The university takes all such complaints seriously. We did a thorough investigation and found it without merit.”
On the subject of Tramontano, Thompson said he “wasn’t in the room” so he didn’t know whether the provost made comments such as “You already have a Miriam,” and even if such comments were made, “context is important.”
Brooklyn College has a very large Hillel, or Jewish students’ organization, and several other Jewish organizations and prayer groups on campus. The director of the campus’ Hillel didn’t return phone calls to the Eagle by press time. As of yesterday, there was no mention of the accusations on the organization’s website.
The college also has a seven-member Department of Judaic Studies.
— By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
April 3, 2012 - 11:02am