Student Groups, Added Security To Greet Jeffries

Hillel, BGLSA, College Dems to Protest

Three student groups announced plans yesterday to protest City University of New York (CUNY) professor Leonard Jeffries' speech at Harvard tomorrow, and University officials said security at the event will be tight.

Jeffries has been embroiled in controversy since last summer, when videotapes of a lecture he delivered were made public, prompting widespread allegations that his remarks were offensive and disparaging toward Jews, Italian-Americans, gays and other minorities.

The Black Students Association (BSA) and two graduate student groups announced last week that they had invited the CUNY professor to speak at Harvard. BSA Vice-President Zaheer R. Ali '94 said the invitation was extended as part of a year-long celebration of Black culture by the BSA.

Hillel, the Bisexual, Gay and Lesbian Students Association (BGLSA) and the Harvard College Democrats will hold a rally outside Emerson Hall during Jeffries' speech there, according to official at the three organizations. And Hillel Coordinating Council Chair Shai A. Held '93 said he is currently negotiating for the participation of several other student groups.

"We are not protesting the BSA at this rally," Held said. "We are protesting Leonard Jeffries because we see him as a bigot and a racist and an anti-Semite and we feel it imperative to speak up on this issue."


Held said he has expressed his disappointment at the invitation to BSA President Art A. Hall '93, and has written a letter to BSA members asking for a meeting between the two groups. Hillel will likely distribute information about Jeffries around campus in a doordrop tonight, he added.

Outside Influences

Some Jewish activists have charged that Hillel's response to the news of Jeffries' visit was slow and came only in response to pressure from the Jewish Defense Organization (JDO), a militant Jewish group in New York City.

JDO Director Mordechai Levy said he convinced Held to call for a rally.

"I told them if I don't see [a militant] reaction, my group is coming," Levy said. "There's no question that our phone call definitely motivated them to possibly take stances and do things that otherwise they might not have done."

Held acknowledged receiving phone calls about Jeffries from New York, but he said Hillel arrived at the decision to protest on its own.

"There has been outside contact but no outsideinfluence," Held said. "[The callers] basicallywanted to express their strong feelings that theremust be a strong protest of Leonard Jeffries andhis obvious and total bigotry...but there were nothreats or ultimatums issued by them."

BSA officers interviewed yesterday said thatthey respect the right of others to protestJeffries, but have no plans to abandon theirinvitation.

"The BSA realizes that there will be criticismand we understand that and we expect that," Hallsaid. "We are still interested in examining andexploring different viewpoints that exist withinthe [Black] community."

Hall said that the BSA will charge admission tothe lecture, and that attendance will be limited,with members of the three sponsoring organizationslikely receiving preference over non-members.

Vice President and General counsel DanielSteiner '54 acknowledged the BSA's right to limitattendance, but said the event will almostcertainly be moved from Emerson 105 to accommodatea larger audience.

"They'll probably be able to accommodate otherpeople also. I don't think there's going to be aproblem there," he said.

Steiner added that Harvard police officers andsecurity guards will be stationed at the event,and Harvard identification will likely be requiredfor admittance.

Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 said theextra security measures are intended to preventviolence, but added that such measures are usuallytaken for controversial speakers.

Steiner said he expects the event to beorderly.

"[Violence] is always a concernbut...everything we know at the moment is that allmembers of the Harvard community are planning toact very responsibly," Steiner said. "So we don'thave a high level of anxiety at this time.