Following Backlash, Ayalon’s Course to Count for Political Science Major Once Again
Ambassador Danny Ayalon’s spring 2018 course, “Topics: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” will count as an elective for Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women political science majors.
In an email sent to The Commentator, Dean Karen Bacon, the Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Undergraduate Faculty of Arts and Sciences, wrote, “In response to the strong student desire to have Ambassador Ayalon's course count in fulfillment of political science major requirements, Professor Luders has been working with the Ambassador’s office to revise the syllabus and broaden its scope.”
According to Bacon, the amended course, which counts for two credits and is set to run only through March, will need to be supplemented with “an approved independent study or internship” in order to properly count as an elective. This elective can then contribute to the 33 credits required for the political science major.
Earlier this week, The Commentator publicized that Ambassador Ayalon’s course was not going to count towards the political science degree. According to a petition circulated by political science students, Dr. Joseph Luders, the interim chair of the political science department, was responsible for this decision, citing undisclosed departmental rules against counting two credit courses. Additionally, the petition quoted him as saying that the course was “too pro-Israel” and “too politically-biased.” Luders did not deny that he made those comments, after multiple attempts to clarify what he said.
When asked about the course not counting towards political science degrees, Luders stated that his decision was due to the course’s lack of academic rigor, citing student complaints that the course treated “competing perspectives...in a dismissive fashion.”
In a comment to The Commentator on the matter, President Ari Berman stated:
“Yeshiva University is a pro-Israel, proudly Zionist institution. Through our stellar faculty, we offer a rich education that emphasizes the dual importance of theory and practice -talmud and ma'aseh. Our students are fortunate to study with and learn from Ambassador Danny Ayalon who combines an engaging and thought provoking teaching style with a wealth of real world experience in applying the insights of his field. We are honored to count him as a member of our faculty and look forward to welcoming him in the upcoming semester.”
President Berman also stressed that “Students at Yeshiva University, and throughout higher education, should be secure in the knowledge that they are being tested not on their personal politics but on their depth of engagement with and mastery of the material.”
Students have reacted positively to the reversal and were relieved to hear that the course will count towards the political science major.
“I am obviously very happy to hear that Dr. Luders is reconsidering his earlier decision and working towards making Ambassador Ayalon's course a reality for political science majors,” said Nolan Edmonson, a current Yeshiva College student majoring in political science. “The Ambassador has a wealth of knowledge to offer our students and I thoroughly look forward to the course being offered next semester.”
Another student, second-year political science major Ariel Goldman, said, “It’s good to know that [Ambassador] Ayalon’s class is now a reasonable option for political science students, who won’t have to decide whether taking a course will come at the expense of their major.”
“On his previous visits,” wrote Dean Bacon, “Ambassador Ayalon attracted a diverse group of students, political science students and others.” She figured, “I expect to see this same phenomenon when Ambassador Ayalon returns to campus this spring, and we look forward to welcoming him and benefiting from his wisdom and experience.”