The sudden and public resignation of a Clark University administrator shed new light on the difficulties colleges across Massachusetts face with issues of freedom of expression since the Israel-Hamas war broke out six months ago.

On April 14, Mary Jane Rein, who was executive director of Clark University’s Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies for 20 years, officially resigned and published an opinion letter in the Wall Street Journal that she would be joining Assumption University, a Catholic institution.

“I can no longer function effectively at an academic institution that thinks shouting a speaker down is tolerable but introducing a speaker with whose views people disagree isn’t,” she wrote.

Strassler Center director Thomas Kühne responded to Rein’s op-ed with his own letter in the Wall Street Journal Thursday, and Clark University’s president sent out a campus-wide email on the subject. As Rein and Clark President David Fithian tell it, what’s at issue is the Clark administration’s response — or lack thereof — to inciting events off campus in mid-March.

Rein helped organize a lecture at Worcester State featuring a pro-Israeli view of the war in her “private capacity,” as she explains in the Journal. She invited a reservist with the Israel Defense Forces to speak. Rein said she was there attending as a Jew and a scholar — not in her capacity with the Strassler Center.

Student protesters, some of them students at Clark’s Strassler Center, repeatedly interrupted the lecture and apparently confronted her afterwards. Per Rein, a Clark administrator later criticized her for using her university affiliation, though Rein says she herself never mentioned her title.

“My resignation isn’t to give the graduate students the satisfaction that their threatening remarks succeeded in driving me from my long-term position at Clark. I am making explicit my reasons for leaving to affirm that I am doing so on my own terms and in keeping with my values,” Rein wrote.

“I suspected I was being asked to censor myself on the basis of my Jewish identity and support for Israel, as I inferred there would be professional consequences if I presented that disfavored views,” she added.

Tensions have risen since Oct. 7, when Hamas attacked Israel and Israel retaliated in Gaza. There have been thousands of civilian deaths and, in the United States, protests, debates and resignations of college leaders, including the presidents of Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Kühne told GBH News he found it “very disappointing” that Rein had gone public with the Journal op-ed.

Kühne, the Strassler Center’s director and a history professor, expressed sadness over Rein’s departure in his Journal letter but said, in a democracy, others can and should have their own view.

“Dr. Rein is entitled to express strongly her views of the Israel-Gaza conflict — but in the same way, others, including students of genocide and the Holocaust, are entitled to reject it equally decisively. Both views are widespread among Holocaust and genocide scholars,” he wrote. “That the exchange of arguments on highly sensitive issues can get overheated or even involve personal invective is unfortunate, but should never end the debate.”

Kühne said he didn’t see the students’ outbursts as antisemitic and that the incident does not reflect Clark University.

“Since Oct. 7, we have had many such gatherings with the same measure of civility and intellectual curiosity. I am confident that we will be able to continue to engage in difficult and even heated debates with a spirit of tolerance, especially as we fight against antisemitism and other forms of hatred,” he wrote.

Fithian, Clark’s president, penned an email to students, faculty and staff about Rein’s public resignation and recognized her long service as a valued member of the university. But he wrote that the administration does not and cannot reprimand students for their actions on another campus.

“Had this kind of disruption or confrontation happened at an event on our campus, we would have intervened and enforced our Student Code of Conduct,” he wrote. “[O]ur ability to hold students accountable for behavior off campus is, in fact, limited.

“Ms. Rein was not discouraged from engaging in issues or expressing her views freely,” Fithian added. “The guidance she received was meant not to limit speech, but to clarify, going forward, if she was speaking in her capacity as executive director of the Strassler Center.”

Rein is now working at Assumption University, a Catholic institution, in its newly established Center for Civic Friendship. She declined to comment to GBH News beyond her Journal op-ed.

Kühne told GBH News the exchange of arguments on highly sensitive issues can get overheated, but should never end the debate.

“Now, we have some sort of storm — like a storm. But, in my career, I have experienced similar things. And a storm sometimes clears the air,” he said.