Hillel Responds to the Swastika Incident — April 10

Editor’s Note: The Student first published an op-ed by Amherst Hillel on its website on April 2. Shortly after, members of the administration reached out to Hillel and engaged its members in a meeting on Monday, April 8. The revised version of Hillel’s op-ed appeared in the April 10 print edition of The Student.

As the main Jewish affinity group on campus, we wanted to address the story published in The Amherst Student regarding events at the men’s lacrosse house 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.

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 are working diligently with the administration to ensure that Jewish students’ concerns are addressed, and that anti-Semitism is both acknowledged and targeted on campus. It is crucial that Amherst’s response to events as emotive as a swastika includes student voices. The administration has acknowledged this fact and we are in the process of developing events and training designed to raise awareness and combat anti-Semitism. This process is by no means complete and it will take continued effort on the part of Hillel, Jewish students and the wider community to ensure success. Nonetheless, we are making important progress fighting hatred on campus.

We would like a formal apology from members of the lacrosse team. We want action to combat hatred in our community. But more than that, we want people to 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 hostile environment for all of us and undermine the efforts of all those committed to acceptance at Amherst.