As the main Jewish affinity group on campus, we wanted to address the story released in last week’s issue of The Student regarding events at the men’s lacrosse house earlier in December 2018.
Our community is deeply affected and hurt by the use of the swastika, a symbol which is a direct assault on our Jewish identities. That this event came only two months after the horrific shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh illustrates the insensitivity that members of this community feel towards their Jewish classmates, faculty and staff.
Given how closely this event affects members of our particular community on campus, we are frustrated about the administration’s response. We respect that federal privacy laws are powerful and that there is little information available for disclosure, but that does not excuse the administration’s lack of consideration for Jewish student voices. If the administration wants to know how Jewish students feel about an issue, especially one as emotive as a swastika, Hillel’s student leadership should be consulted. To date, there has been no effort from the administration to reach out to Hillel’s executive board regarding the presence of anti-Semitism on this campus.
Jewish students, like everybody else on this campus, deserve the opportunity to express their beliefs without fear of discrimination. Hillel works hard to establish a community in which Jewish students can feel at home and safe on campus.
Events like the one uncovered by The Student actively undermine our efforts, and we will not stand for them.
We would like a formal apology from these members of the lacrosse team. We want something to be done about hatred in our community. But more than that, we want human beings to act like human beings and to treat others with respect. As long as Nazi propaganda remains on our campus, it is not a safe one. The people who propagate these symbols contribute to an unsafe and hostile environment for all of us and undermine the efforts of all those committed to acceptance at Amherst.
Editor’s Note: Shortly after the publication of this op-ed, members of the college administration reached out to Amherst Hillel. Following a meeting with Chief Student Affairs Karu Kozuma, Hillel revised the above op-ed for the April 10 print issue of The Student.