Prof. Barry Brown, Acting President
Dear Prof. Brown:
I saw Gilad Sharon on C-Span’s BookTV. It had been taped at Suffolk University’s Ford Hill Forum on October 27, 2011 and aired on November 5th and 6th. He was there to discuss the new book, Sharon: The Life of a Leader by His Son. In my forty year career in higher education (a brief biography appears in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World), I have never seen such an ugly spectacle. Mr. Sharon was the recipient of vicious verbal abuse. He was mocked and shouted at by Suffolk students, a sight made more poignant by his lack of facility in English. On stage with him was Wendy Ballinger, but her lack of knowledge of Hebrew prevented her from assisting Mr. Sharon in either understanding or responding to the lengthy speeches made from the floor during the Question and Answer Session. There were one or two outbursts from hostile students even before the hectoring in the so-called Q and A session began.
At its conclusion, Jennifer Bonardi, the Executive Director of the Forum, went so far as to thank the members of the entire audience for their contributions! It appears that to her shouting at a guest that they hate both him and his father is of value. The audience cheered this and similar harangues.
Suffolk’s reputation is for having students who are academically incapable of gaining entrance to any of the excellent institutions of higher learning in Boston or Cambridge, but they should also be known as crude, rude people who are not being tutored by Suffolk faculty and staff in the practice of civil, rational discourse. Academic interchange is apparently not genuinely prized at your institution.
Since this was filmed by C-Span for BookTV, people throughout the U.S.A.–and, indeed, the world–will be able to view this spectacle for themselves. This video will, as they say now, “go viral.”
I suggest that Ballenger should not be utilized on stage in the future since she is either not committed to, or capable of, effectively controlling unruly students. Ms. Bonardi should be fired for her incapacity or unwillingness to implement the purported goals of the Ford Hill Forum (“Listen, learn, and engage”) that she runs. At best, one could be charitable and accuse her merely of bias or idiocy.