Administrators have twice stalled recent efforts to bring Norman Finkelstein, a left-wing professor of political theory who has written controversial books on the Middle East, to campus, Kevin Conway '09, a member of the Radical Student Association, said.
Originally, Conway said RSA and the Arab Culture Club wanted to bring Finkelstein to campus to respond to former President Jimmy Carter and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz immediately after their talks.
"Finkelstein is acknowledged as an expert on the Middle East," Conway said. "No one has been able to discredit him on his work alone."
But Conway said the speaker's visit was rejected because administrators, during a one-stop meeting, felt the RSA proposed the program too hastily. Student groups looking to hold events meet with departments such as Student Life and Public Safety during one-stop meetings.
"These events should be planned more thoughtfully and have more of an educating aspect," said Alwina Bennett, assistant dean of student life.
Administrators on Monday rejected a second effort to bring Finkelstein to campus at a one-stop meeting.
Bennett said Finkelstein was not really prohibited to come to campus, but added that bringing controversial speakers like Finkelstein should be well-planned. Bennett said soon student groups will propose these types of events to a yet-to-be-named committee to better organize these events. Bennett suggested Conway's group meet with this committee in the future.
"We need to find a balanced way of getting speakers to campus," Bennett said.
Student Union President Alison Schwartzbaum '08 said a committee like this should be comprised of students, faculty and staff. "There should be a forum to discuss this in an intellectual manner," she added.
But Conway and Farrah Bdour '07, co-president of the Arab Culture Club, said they did not feel it was necessary to start a committee to approve Finkelstein's visit.
"I realize he brings up controversial and sensitive points of view, but it's a view that is sorely missing from Brandeis," Bdour said. "People need to hear all sides of the story."
"This committee is not about Student Union or Student Activities censorship, even though people might look at it that way," Schwartzbaum said. "But that's not at the crux of the issue."
Bdour said administrators approved an upcoming visit by Daniel Pipes, a neoconservative Middle East analyst, despite the fact that its organizer, Middle East Forum at Brandeis, had not yet gone before the committee.