Student petition criticizes GW Hillel

A GW graduate student who says he is concerned that Hillel’s administration negatively affects attendance at Hillel programs is circulating a petition to urge a review of the center’s policies.

The petition was circulated via e-mail by graduate student Marc Rosenberg, who said Jewish students have a general sense of apathy toward the programs Hillel offers.

“Our issues involve leadership, activism, funding, staffing, image, food services and student engagement,” Rosenberg said in the petition.

The petition, which Rosenberg said has been signed by 30 or 40 students, calls for Hillel’s Board of Governors to “seriously address the reality of student dissatisfaction and apathy with the current managerial approach of GW Hillel.”

Rosenberg said he hopes the petition will demonstrate to Hillel administrators that the Jewish student population at GW feels strongly that the administrative policies of Hillel are not fulfilling student needs.

“What I want to do is rock the boat a little bit,” he said.

Greg Schoefer, assistant director of Hillel, said he is aware of Rosenberg’s feelings and agrees that the administrative policies can be improved.

Schoefer said the Hillel of Greater Washington is planning to hire a development professional who will attempt to address such concerns. The problems can be addressed, but implementing solutions is a long-term process, he said.

“Nothing is going to get solved overnight,” Schoefer said.

Rosenberg said he estimates only 75 to 100 students participate in at least one Hillel event per month. He said he is organizing the petition in hopes that Hillel administrators will take action to increase the number of students who regularly participate in Hillel-sponsored events.

“Hillel is failing to stimulate that number,” he said

Emily Katz, president of the Jewish Student Leadership Coalition of Hillel, said the petition addresses some of her concerns. Katz said she wanted Rosenberg to present the issues personally to the Hillel administration before circulating a grassroots petition.

Katz said she has discussed the petition with students who said it was vague and did not outline specific concerns with the program.

Katz said Hillel went through a comprehensive evaluation last year.

“(Items in the petition) are things we’ve brought up ourselves,” Katz said. “It’s a bottom-up evaluation of GW Hillel.

“We’re going to have to sit down with Marc and address specific things,” she said.

“We have a good Hillel here,” Rosenberg said. “It’s a question of making it a better Hillel.”

-Matt Berger contributed to this report.

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