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Tension Mounts at Hofstra U As Administration Refuses to Force Nazi Student to Remove Nazi Flag

Tension continued to build up on the Hofstra University campus today as the administration refused to take action to force a student to remove a Nazi flag that has been hanging from his dormitory window since Sunday. Dean Salvator Luiso told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a telephone interview that his position was in keeping with the Hofstra policy of complete freedom of expression for students.

Luiso said this applied to the swastika flag even though the ideas it symbolized were abhorrent to him and to a majority of the campus population. Asked if the university trustees supported his position, the Dean said they supported the policy of freedom of expression but he did not know whether they backed him in this specific instance. He conceded that there was a strong possibility of violence on campus if the flag continued to be displayed. But beyond expressing hope that “reason” will prevail, he stood fast in his refusal to force the removal of the offensive symbol.

No member of the Board of Trustees was available for comment today. University sources informed the JTA that Hofstra president Clifford Lord and the Board of Trustees were attending their regular Wednesday meeting which was expected to last all day. The sources thought it was “likely” that the flag incident was on the agenda.

STUDENT BODY READY TO ACT

The Nazi flag was displayed by David Kerr, a 21-year-old junior who is associated with the National Socialist White People’s Party of Arlington Va., formerly the American Nazi Party and with the National Renaissance Party of James Madole. Kerr was responsible for placing paid advertisements in the student newspaper, “The Chronicle” seeking to recruit members to the neo Nazi group. According to Rabbi Leo Wolf, director of the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation on the Hofstra campus, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith has a record on Kerr going back to his high school days.

Rabbi Wolf described to the JTA the mounting tension on campus since the Nazi flag first appeared. It reached a peak in a mass rally outside Kerr’s dormitory last night attended by several hundred students after Dean Luiso visited Kerr but failed to get him to remove the flag. Rabbi Wolf said an ad hoc committee of faculty and students had asked the Dean to “demand” removal of the flag but that Luiso only “requested” it. He said there were strong indications among the student body that they would take matters into their own hands if the administration failed to act forcefully against Kerr. He did not elaborate.

Rabbi Wolf said Kerr had less than a half dozen supporters among the 12,000 students at Hofstra. According to Rabbi Wolf, 40 percent of the student body and about 50 percent of the faculty are Jewish and half of the trustees are Jews. Dean Luiso estimated that 50 percent of the students are Jewish but couldn’t say what percentage of the faculty. Hofstra is a private institution. Rabbi Wolf said that since the swastika appeared, Israeli flags have appeared in many dormitory windows. A Confederate flag was also displayed from a window on Kerr’s floor. Rabbi Wolf said that about one seventh of the students at Hofstra are Black.

EDITORS SPLIT DOWN THE MIDDLE

Student and faculty protests against the Nazi recruiting ads in “The Chronicle” were countered by co-editor Adrienne Flipse with the same arguments for “freedom of expression” offered by Dean Luiso. One of the ads contained the slogan “Hitler Was Right, White Men Unite.” Miss Flipse refused to ban a similar ad to appear in the next issue.

According to Rabbi Wolf, her co-editors are “split down the middle” on the issue. Rabbi Wolf said the Hillel Foundation is working with student and faculty groups to bring campus and community pressure to bear on the university administration to remove the source of provocation. He said Hillel’s policy originally was to avoid publicity because “that’s what Kerr wants” but this changed after a faculty member informed newspapers of the episode.

According to the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League’s records, Kerr became involved in 1969 with the National Renaissance Party of James Madole, a professional anti-Semite and hate monger whose national headquarters is located in the Yorkville section of New York. Kerr became a section leader in New Jersey and a “security echelon leader” in 1971 when the party extended its activities to Long Island. He enrolled at Hofstra in Sept. 1971 and, according to the ADL, became associated shortly thereafter with the National Socialist White People’s Party.

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