In the days that have passed since the Muslim Students Association sent a campus-wide email expressing concern over Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s planned appearance, some campus organizations listed as signatories have withdrawn their signatures, claiming that they never gave their clear support.

Organizations including the Slifka Center, Yale Friends of Israel, and the Yale Women’s Leadership Initiative said they did not grant MSA explicit permission to use their names. Some of these groups have sent emails to their respective panlists clarifying that they are not, in fact, signatories on the letter. In addition, over the weekend, the MSA sent two correction emails to student leaders of the listed signing groups with updates to the list following the withdrawal of student groups.

The letter began with 35 signatories, in addition to the MSA. Since then, six groups have been removed, while two others have been added.

Interviews with students involved and emails obtained by the News indicated the inclusion of erroneous signatures resulted from vague language, lengthy email chains and late timing. MSA religious chair Abrar Omeish ’17 said she did not intend to misrepresent any groups in the letter.

“I sincerely and honestly put a good faith effort to represent everyone correctly, and it was by no means our intention to try to get signatures that we didn’t fully have even though it would have made us look good,” Omeish said.

In the week prior to the sending of the email, the listed supporting organizations had expressed tentative support for the contents of the letter, and Omeish invited leaders from these groups to a meeting to finalize the letter on Tuesday afternoon. The MSA said in early correspondence that the groups could withdraw their support throughout the process, pending review of the final letter. At the meeting, which had representation from at least 10 organizations, the attendees decided that Omeish would release the final version of the letter by midnight so that the tentative signees could review it and issue their withdrawal within the next hour. Later that evening, Omeish sent an email to all tentative signatories and stated that the MSA would send the final version of the letter to these groups at midnight for review and approval.

Still, leaders from other organizations said they only expressed interest in the idea of the letter.

Stephany Rhee ’16, president of the WLI, said that when contacted by a student on Sept. 4 discussing Ali’s invitation to speak on campus, she did not receive any information about which group the student represented, what the letter would say, when it would be published or when further discussion would take place before the letter was finalized.

Rhee added that she was not included in any subsequent correspondence to discuss the email.

Omeish said that Rhee was included in a follow-up email on Sept. 8, but the MSA could not confirm this claim.

The Slifka Center’s name was also removed from the list of signatories on Sunday.

After reaching out to the Slifka Center with the original invitation to support the MSA, Omeish said she initially received support from Slifka leadership, though she added that she received an email declining to sign the letter, which she said she did not see until after sending out the campus-wide email. Rabbi Leah Cohen could not be reached for comment Sunday evening.

“Because of the countless e-mails we have been receiving, there may have been unintended miscommunication with some groups that had provided tentative signatures,” Omeish said in a statement on behalf of the MSA emailed to the News. “We also heard from some groups after the set time for withdrawal. We are very sorry for any trouble this may have caused and we have already sent out a number of e-mails clarifying to the student body and apologizing to the relevant groups.”

Yale Hillel President Rebecca Bakal ’16 said that the Slifka Center, to her knowledge, did not agree to sign the letter, but added that the situation had since been internally resolved by the MSA and Slifka. She said the Jewish and Muslim communities at Yale have a good relationship and offer support to one another.

Leaders of Yale Friends of Israel claimed that they never gave explicit permission to use their name in any letter condemning the arrival of Ali. On Sept. 5, YFI co-president Josh Feinzig ’16 responded to Omeish’s initial email about the initiative explaining that YFI would be “most likely interested be in co-signing [the letter].”

But Feinzig said this interest did not lead to explicit support for the letter.

“Never at any point did we sign on to the letter,” Feinzig said. “When I expressed interest on the behalf of YFI there was no letter to even reference and it wasn’t clear what the content of it might be.”

Feinzig said the organization was simply looking for MSA to clarify its clerical mistake to the Yale community because there are “powerful implications here to a letter like this one.”

Sam Sussman ’16, co-president of YFI, emphasized that the organization was neither for or against MSA’s letter, but that it was simply not a part of the signing process.

Hirsi Ali — a Somali-born American activist known for her women’s rights advocacy and critical remarks about Islam — is slated to give a lecture titled “Clash of Civilizations: Islam and the West” on Sept. 15 as part of the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program speaker series.

  • frog

    It’s not confusion. The MSA acted without integrity.

    • SecularlyYours

      All MSA chapters have a history of lack of integrity. This comes as no surprise to me & many other fellow ex-Muslims.

  • Arafat

    Leave it up to the MSA to silence a woman of valor.

    This reminds me of the following quote, “The Jihadist Muslim will hack your head off and
    the moderate Muslim will hold your feet down while he is doing it—-“

    • ShadrachSmith

      Good to see you 🙂

      • Arafat

        Thanks ShadrachSmith!

    • mxm123

      Aren’t Israeli settlers doing the same thing while moderates stand and watch.

      • Palamas

        Look, a squirrel!

  • aaleli

    Sounds like a lot of arm-twisting went on behind the scene. MSA looking a lot like a campus bully.

  • puffthejapanesedragon

    This is much more than a simple clerical mistake; this is a flagrant misrepresentation of multiple prominent on-campus groups.

    MSA needs to step up, take responsibility, and apologize to the Yale undergraduate community for this debacle. It’s too late to reverse the damage that MSA has done to itself, but continued denial will cause truly irreparable damage to MSA.

  • infinitynight

    Such an embarrassing, embarrassing shit show. What has been accomplished? The MSA (and especially Ms. Omeish) look very foolish, there’s an enormous amount of free publicity for the event, and it’s sure to be absolutely packed. At least now everyone knows how NOT to deal with a speaker with whom they disagree.

  • ShadrachSmith

    After Miriam Ibraheem faced a death sentence in Sudan for refusing to renounce her Christian faith until global outrage forced her release and the Rotherham mass rapes that were ignored because nobody dared accuse Muslims, and the Foley beheading, and the mass executions by the Islamic Caliphate, ISIS…I’ve got a few criticisms of Islam myself. Attacking, even killing, people for questioning Islam heads the list. For example Islamist police in Saudi Arabia have stormed a Christian prayer meeting and arrested its entire congregation of 28, including women and children, and confiscated their bibles just yesterday. Sounds a little harsh.

    Rotherham is what you get when you refuse to allow criticism of Islam. And if the Rotherham rapes and ISIS brutality isn’t about Islam, then the Inquisition and Crusades weren’t about Christianity.

  • James Smith

    What really was the point of all of this?
    Bring in a “legitimate” outsider to voice an opposing opinion?
    Publicity for MSA?
    Oppose Ms. Ali on campus?
    Form a coalition of organizations?

    I think we can all safely say that those objectives have failed. The only thing this succeed in is EXACTLY what, I assume, the MSA did not want: more people interested in the event and more people willing to listen to Ms. Ali’s opinion.

  • Right Angle

    If you can’t persuade people with good ideas, get their speakers tossed off campus. There. That demonstrates how right you are.

  • Pissedatmsa

    The YDN did not mention that the MSA (or at least a member of MSA) made deliberate attempts to falsify communications between Omeish and leaders of student organizations in order to bolster their claim that organizations were invited to this meeting or theirs. There is no confusion; the MSA left a mess for others to clean and broke several Yale regulations in the process. Student groups should demand a campus wide apology from the MSA.

  • Arafat

    the MSA organization’s history is one where problems like this one are common.

    Additionally of one looks into the history of MSA it is easy to discover their affiliation with individuals who have publicly supported Islamists.

    The MSA may pretend to be a “moderate” Muslim organization but they are not and their dancing around this issue is typical.

  • Samuel Adams

    The very purpose and contents of the letter virtually guaranteed a highly unethical and distasteful little act of sabotage of a sanctioned, university activity.
    I agree…there was never any confusion here by the originators of this letter. It’s more unfortunate that so many other groups have such a naive view of them…

  • LeavingMyRepublicanParty

    So let me get this straight – you can’t have a strong woman who actually overcame adversity speaking at Yale? Seems to me that Yale Women are acting like NFL men.

  • Vox_Clams

    What’s next at Yale? Someone having the gall to speak out in favor of women’s suffrage? A speaker who opposes the mass slaughter of Jews? A speaker who thinks that freedom of religion is a good idea? A speaker who is deluded enough to suggest that gays should not be stoned to death? Perhaps a new, but more “traditional” dress code, for the women anyway, would keep current undergrads more focused on the “benefits” of sharia totalitarianism and help students shun the radically extremist views of anyone who dares to advocate liberty, equality, freedom of speech and religion and human rights for women and young girls. No doubt the MSA will do its part, provided it has sufficient time and resources in light of its heavy censorship workload.

  • Robbins Mitchell

    Well, ” Bulldog ! Bulldog ! bowsy wowsy wowsy !”

  • hyphenatedamerican

    Is anyone surprised?

  • hyphenatedamerican

    It’s time for pro-women groups to claim that MSA actually invited Hirsi Ali to Yale, given that she is a expert on Islam.

  • castiel

    oops, Truth is always ugly

  • wbcoleman

    Why would Hillel or a group like YFI even contemplate trying to silence a speaker?

  • Tim Steele

    pretty obvious what happened here. Several of these groups gave tepid support to the idea of the letter without realizing the s*** storm that would ensue after it was published. These groups, Slifka and YFI in particular, were embarrassed because of the juvenile and whiny language used by the MSA in the letter (the bit about hate speech, libel and slander was over the top, in addition to referencing her genital mutilation as an “unfortunate circumstance”). As if that wasn’t enough, then there was the disparaging remarks toward Ms. Ali and the nonsensical request that she speak only to her personal experiences and professional expertise (how insulting is that?) . I’m sure they got emails and calls from students and alumni who associate with those groups wanting to know how the decision was made to co-sign the letter, and the rest is history.

    Hint to MSA… next time around try not to impose your bullying tactics and intimidation on other student groups when another group invites a speaker whose views you disagree with because you just might end up stepping in it with both feet…

    • Rebekah

      I think you were right up until the point you claimed the MSA was using bullying tactics (evidence for that?). I am laughing because the MSA president is about as intimidating as Minnie Mouse. Of course these organizations became worried when the issue started to heighten, so they pulled out.

      Remember these are human beings you are discussing. The MSA is composed of students who are Muslims and who feel like they are being attacked and marginialized whenever an anti-Islam speaker comes to visit. An Israeli student would feel the same way if an anti-Israeli speaker came to visit. It is normal for people who feek attacked to ask for help. Wouldn’t you? Of course, it would have been more mature of the MSA to ignore her and spend their time doing something productive. But really, you are talking about 18-21 year old privileged Yalies.

      Oh I forgot, those are 18-21 year olds with links to Al Qaeda. Oh my so scary! Better rally the troops! Obviously criticizing political scare tactics here if you cannot read between the lines.

  • Alum’10

    I am curious as to what the Slifka Center and YFI thought they could not sign on to in the MSA’s letter. Was there any part they disagreed with?

    Fascinatingly, while the MSA gets lambasted for simply writing an email to fellow students stating only their disappointment (no protests, no call for Hirsi Ali to not speak), and while the Buckley Program makes wild claims about defending itself against the enemies of free speech and states promoting “intellectual diversity” is its mission, here is what the Buckley program’s founder and executive director, Lauren Noble ’11, had to say in the New Haven Register just a few weeks back with regards to a New Haven Public Library staffer giving a small talk on Thomas Piketty’s widely acclaimed masterpiece “Capital” :

    “I do not contest that inequality is real, but I do question the intellectual credibility of a Communist Party booster like Mr. Perlo. This affiliation makes it clear that he can add history expert to his list of non-certifications. He and his comrades would do well to read up on the Soviet Union and the millions it counts among its victims.
    While I am sure the New Haven Free Public Library has many resources on the violence committed by communism in the 20th century, the actions of library staff seem to suggest they may be unaware of them. Mr. Perlo noted in his talk that he was invited to speak. While the library is a public place and I do not challenge his freedom of speech, as an institution funded with taxpayer dollars, the library exhibited questionable judgment in inviting him in the first place. Instead of advancing real debate and thoughtful discussion, the organizers gave a platform to a political activist of a discredited and destructive ideology.”

    http://www.nhregister.com/opinion/20140902/forum-new-haven-free-public-library-gives-platform-to-destructive-ideology

    Talk about respecting intellectual diversity and freedom of speech! Lauren Noble really knows how to channel her inner McCarthy and put the most dangerous elements in society in their place!

    FURTHER illustrating the extraordinary lack of integrity and extreme hypocrisy of Lauren Noble and the Buckley Program, when I posted the above quote on the Buckley Program facebook page, it was deleted within hours and i was banned entirely from the page. When I posted it as a review of the page, the option to review the page was removed entirely.

    In contrast, the Yale MSA facebook page has allowed EVERY SINGLE one of the dozens and dozens of absolutely vile, racist, violent comments coming from the supporters of the Buckley Program, and has allowed all empty one-star reviews to remain. The comments are too vulgar to be reposted here — I encourage you to go read some of the filth to get a sense of who the Buckley Program and Lauren Noble fine their strongest support from.