- The Washington Times - Monday, December 23, 2002

A campus conflict that erupted after the September 11 attacks continues to rage at the University of Miami, where the editor of the student newspaper seeks redress for threats after he published an article about a Jewish fraternity's derision of Muslim students.
A national journalistic organization is preparing to join the fray by running a half-page ad next month in the student newspaper, the UM Hurricane.
University President Donna E. Shalala, a former Clinton administration Cabinet member, rejected calls for further disciplinary action from two prestigious journalism organizations, saying nothing will change her mind.
Jordan Rodack, 21, said he moved off-campus after his fraternity brothers in Alpha Epsilon Pi which calls itself "the Jewish Fraternity of North America" targeted him for allowing publication of an article about members of the fraternity who denigrated Muslims in the weeks after the attacks on New York and Washington.
As part of rush activities just weeks after the September 11 attacks, the paper reported, the fraternity dispatched pledges on a scavenger hunt to collect videotaped replies to questions referring disparagingly to Arabs.
About 9,000 copies of that issue of the semiweekly Hurricane were stolen. Despite Mr. Rodack's hands-off policy to avoid conflict of interest about his fraternity, he was targeted by Alpha Epsilon Pi brothers. He said fraternity members broke into his room at the Alpha Epsilon Pi house and left a burned American flag beneath a wall smeared with a used condom and, in a separate incident, dumped vomit inside his doorway.
Mr. Rodack, who is Jewish, described the Hurricane's coverage of the fraternity's activities as "a public-safety story because many of our Arab and Muslim students were being harassed."
Mr. Rodack's fraternity brothers took out an ad in the Hurricane to apologize for stealing newspapers, a protest tactic routinely prosecuted at other universities.
"This is a case of right versus wrong. I know I'm right. I'm not going to back down until this thing is properly resolved," Mr. Rodack told The Washington Times. "The fraternity needs to be disciplined. They have not been."
University spokeswoman Margot Winick said the school placed the fraternity on probation for the 2002 scholastic year and suspended two members, but later lifted the suspensions. The national office of Alpha Epsilon Pi suspended the Miami chapter, she said.
School officials insist federal laws preclude release of information about any disciplinary action, a position challenged by Robert Leger, president of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and by Patrick Yack, president of the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors (FSNE).
"The thing that is most frustrating to me in my exchange of letters with Dr. Shalala is her incorrect insistence that the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act forbids them from releasing the information," Mr. Leger said.
SPJ termed Miss Shalala's response "vitriol and evasion," and plans to buy a half-page ad in the Hurricane next month to protest the university's "turning a blind eye toward the harassment of the student editor and his newspaper," as Mr. Yack put it.
"I'm disappointed in Dr. Shalala's actions, or inactions," said Mr. Rodack, who said the newspaper has not published articles or editorials about the threats, break-in or intervention by SPJ and FSNE.
Mr. Leger said the student editor prudently avoided conflicts of interest, but might have written a column or editorial to pursue his battle on behalf of the campus newspaper.
Mr. Rodack and his father, Jeffrey Rodack of Coral Springs, Fla., said school officials persuaded the family to not report the threats and break-in to police.
"Not reporting it was a terrible decision, looking back at it. At that point call me naive I had faith and trust in the university," Jordan Rodack said.
His father said the situation got out of hand, but accepted a dean's assurances that it would be handled internally.
"The safety of my son, that's what I was concerned about," the elder Mr. Rodack said. "It was not our intention to go to war with the University of Miami."
Miss Winick and Miss Shalala say they are reluctant to discuss issues that might become the subject of a lawsuit, an option the Rodack family has not undertaken, but would not foreclose.
"There's no better way to fight a freedom-of-the-press battle than to go with the press themselves, so it's not just 'lunatic Jordan Rodack' fighting the battle anymore," Jordan Rodack said. "I don't know what a court could accomplish, but I'm going to use all means possible."

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