‘Holocaust Studies Matter’: Youngstown State University Students Rally In Bid to Save Judaic Scholar’s Job
A rally was held recently by students at Youngstown State University (YSU) in eastern Ohio in support of the school’s Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies (CJHS), which is facing a budget cut that will see its director, Professor Jacob Ari Labendz, laid off in May.
A petition demanding Labendz be retained by the university, located in Youngstown, Ohio, was delivered to the YSU administration at the rally.
“In a world still reeling from its legacy — and in a climate that weaponizes the memory of Nazism to make facile political and personal gains — Holocaust studies matter,” the petition said. “In a world where individuals try to deny or debate the Shoah as an actual historical event, Holocaust studies matter. In a time when religious and cultural minorities face growing threats from white nationalists, Holocaust studies matter. History begs careful and sensitive inquiry and, through its analysis, teaches lessons in the present day that matter.”
“Youngstown State University needs a thriving CJHS,” it noted. “It needs Dr. Labendz’s expertise in running it. We are a better university when we value and honor diversity and when we invest in the faculty, who are at the heart of student success.”
The CJHS cut is part of a broader plan to eliminate nine faculty positions and 26 degree programs at YSU.
“While these are difficult decisions, they are necessary to further position us for success in the post-pandemic era,” YSU President Jim Tressel stated.