This Sunday night marks one of the most anticipated social events on campus this semester, the Rusted Root concert. It also marks the beginning of the holiest holiday on the Jewish calendar - Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.
That the Hopkins Organization for Programming (HOP) scheduled this show on the eve of Yom Kippur is, at the very least, ignorant and insensitive. Yom Kippur is a day of reflection and atonement, a day on which some Jews fast for the duration of the holiday.
According to Rabbi Joe Menashe, Director of Hopkins Hillel, Yom Kippur precludes most Jewish students from attending the show. Many students also return home for the holiday; clearly they too will miss the event.
Thus, a concert on Yom Kippur eve is simply inappropriate. Though Jewish students are a minority on campus, they do make up a sizeable proportion (10 to 11 percent) of the undergraduate population, and the ultimate result of the scheduling will be the exclusion of a large part of the campus community.
In addition, some students will now be forced to "choose between religion and their desire to be part of the campus community," Menashe said.
Will some Jewish students attend the event in spite of the conflict? Yes. Does the conflict preclude every Jewish student? No. But the fact remains that scheduling this show for Sept. 15 has raised the potential for a sizeable amount of students to be alienated, and that is very unfortunate indeed.
To their credit, the HOP was not aware of the conflict until after they scheduled the concert, and once it was brought to their attention they explored the possibility of moving the show to another date. Unfortunately, Rusted Root's road schedule and lack of availability in Shriver Hall made rescheduling the show for a later date impossible. The HOP had to make a choice - stick with the show as scheduled, or cancel the event altogether.
Upon realizing their oversight and finding that the event could not be moved, members of the HOP should have decided to cancel. Although the HOP did receive a discounted rate for Rusted Root and many students will enjoy the show, money and attendance should not be the bottom line - respect and sensitivity should.
Still, the HOP chose to let the concert go on as scheduled.
When asked about the scheduling, HOP Chair Joe Hanauer admitted that it might have been done to hastily.
"It was a very poor choice (inadvertently scheduling the show on Yom Kippur)...and we're going to try and find a way to make it up to the Jewish population," Hanauer said.
That Hanauer himself says the decision was poor is commendable. In fact, it is important to note that members of the HOP, as well as others, are aware of the conflict and recognize its problematic nature.
Both University Chaplain Sharon Kugler and Director of Student Involvement Jeff Groden-Thomas called the conflict "unfortunate." Groden Thomas offered "as many apologies as necessary" to students who are excluded because of the holiday.
Hanauer is mulling the idea of refunding the cost of the show to Jewish students that bought the new Hopkins Entertainment Pass. Purchasing the pass would have allowed these students to receive a free ticket to the concert, which they may not be able to attend.
This sensitive reaction is encouraging and necessary. However, the HOP should realize that not only those who purchased the pass are affected. The simple fact that money intended for campus-wide social events was used for a show that students of a single religion will not be able to attend is a problem in and of itself. The money spent on the concert could have better been used to sponsor an event that all students would have the opportunity to participate in.
We understand that canceling the concert now would be ludicrous. It would cause great detriment to many who worked hard to bring an exciting event to a campus that has for years lacked social enthusiasm, and would disappoint those who have been waiting to see Rusted Root since the band was announced.
After reviewing the circumstances, we understand why the HOP decided to let the show go on, even though we disagree with that decision. In the future, it is our hope that they consult the calendar of high holy days that is distributed by the University so that they are aware of potential religious conflicts in time to avoid them.