Charter member destroys menorah, gets suspended, Rebecca Han , Silma Berrada and Zachary Shevin | Dec 6, 2018
Charter Club president Conor O’Brien ’19 told The Daily Princetonian on Friday, Dec. 7 that the club suspended a member suspected of having destroyed the club’s menorah on Thursday, Dec. 6. The club’s internal investigation is still ongoing.
The menorah had previously stood on a table in the club’s front atrium and was discovered broken in the great room fireplace. Officers think the incident occurred sometime after 2 a.m. Thursday morning.
In an email to club members, which was anonymously forwarded to the ‘Prince,‘ O’Brien wrote, “we under no circumstances condone any sort of hate action, nor this absolute disrespect for a culture.”
He also wrote, “this is not what Charter is, nor what it stands for, and I am frankly appalled that this could take place in our club.”
O’Brien told the ‘Prince’ in an email statement that the decision to suspend the suspected perpetrator has the support of the club’s Graduate Board of Governors and that the incident has been reported to University authorities and the Princeton Police Department.
In concluding the email sent to listserv members, O’Brien wrote that “this is never an acceptable thing to happen, and it will be dealt with with the seriousness that this sort of action requires. It is not ok.”
According to a statement O’Brien and Charter president-elect Justin Hamilton ’20 sent to the ‘Prince,’ the officer corps has received a message from a Charter member implicating another Charter member in having committed the act.
“However,” they wrote, “there was no physical/admissible evidence that proved any finding of guilt, which necessitates our ongoing investigation and efforts regarding this matter.”
The accused member has been told not to attend Charter social events or have meals in the club while the investigation is ongoing.
Charter officers have also reached out to the Princeton Police Department and have been in contact with Bryan R. Blount, assistant dean of undergraduate students and manager of strategic communications.
On the night of Thursday, Dec. 6, Charter held a club lighting of the repaired menorah.
“Our only goal is to ensure the safety, comfort, and happiness of our membership, and so we intend to pursue this investigation with all the resources that are available to us,” O’Brien and Hamilton’s statement concluded.
John Beers ’76, a member of Charter’s graduate board, said that there were never similar issues during his time at Charter. He said Charter is treating the issue “as an urgent matter.”
“I told the president that we need to find out exactly what happened,” Beers said. “We need to do an immediate investigation, and we need to make sure that the club members know that this kind of conduct is not tolerated.”
Beers did not say whether he thinks the University should get involved in the investigation.
“This is a brand-new incident,” Beers said. “Haven’t gotten that far yet.”
An anonymous Charter member told the ‘Prince’ that they were in shock and could not imagine who inside the club could have destroyed the menorah.
“The events that occurred have been extremely unsettling,” they said.
In a post submitted to Real Talk Princeton, a Tumblr blog on which University students can anonymously ask questions to a team of student contributors, another anonymous student stated that “The Charter menorah was destroyed and I don’t know what to do.”
The student reported feeling “extremely uncomfortable that I’m in a club who has members who would do this.”
“Regina” from RTP, who replied to the student’s question, told the ‘Prince’ that she was shocked by the incident.
“Honestly, I think whoever committed it should be ousted from the club. I think it’s really disgraceful to do something like that,” Regina said.
Additionally, Regina feels the perpetrator “should also have some ramifications from the school.”
Rabbi Julie Roth, executive director of the University’s Center for Jewish Life, said that “part of the CJL’s role is to make sure Jewish students feel safe on campus.”
She emphasized that the CJL is “committed to being part of a broad campus coalition that publicly celebrates differences.”
“As we celebrate Hanukkah on campus with hundreds of students over the course of this week, each one of us needs to find a way to be a light in the darkness,” Roth wrote.
Interclub Council chair Hannah Paynter ’19 deferred comment to O’Brien and Hamilton.
University spokesperson Ben Chang wrote in a statement that the University has been made aware of the incident and is currently gathering information.
“Princeton is committed to creating and maintaining an educational, working, and living environment that is free from discrimination and harassment for every member of our community,” Chang wrote. “We take this report very seriously and will pursue any violations of University policies.”
This story is breaking and will be updated with additional information as it becomes available.