Dear Vanderbilt community,
Just weeks after witnessing devastating acts of hatred against the Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander community, our country continues to experience appalling incidents of violence and cultural bias—this time targeting members of the Jewish community.
Amid the enduring conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, there have been numerous reports of anti-Semitic attacks across the United States, an uptick documented by the Anti-Defamation League and others. These come against a tragic and already tense backdrop of mass killings and hate crimes that have taken place at American synagogues in recent years.
We have begun investigations into reports of threats and hate speech in online activity within the Vanderbilt community and will take swift action to address these issues. Furthermore, all members of the community are encouraged to report incidents of discrimination, or other forms of prohibited harassment, to the office of Equal Opportunity and Access.
We met last week with representatives of Vanderbilt Hillel and the Rohr Chabad House to discuss the charged atmosphere and to reassure members of our Jewish communities that we are fully committed to their safety and well-being. This week we will meet with Jewish faculty, students, staff and alumni. We will remain in close communication with these partners and Vanderbilt’s Jewish community in the days and weeks ahead.
As One Vanderbilt, we must stand with each and every member of our Jewish community.
Please know that any act of harassment, hatred or violence—whether through action or language, in person or online—stands in direct opposition to Vanderbilt’s values of equity, diversity and inclusion and will not be tolerated.
These recent incidents serve as a reminder that we have an increased responsibility to listen thoughtfully to one another and to support and protect every member of our community. We need to stay committed to our university culture where we can discuss and debate even the most controversial issues without demonizing each other. And we need to remember that we are members of one community that treats one another with respect and civility.
For those students, faculty and staff members who have experienced difficulty processing recent events and the resulting tensions, we hope you will draw on university resources, including the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life, the Provost’s Office for Inclusive Excellence, the Employee Assistance Program and the University Counseling Center.
Our university culture must stand on a foundation of belonging and trust, and it is vital that we do everything in our power to nurture those invaluable traits.
At Vanderbilt, we are in a unique position to uphold these values and to serve as a model for organizing the kinds of constructive, civil conversations that can lead to positive and lasting change. We will redouble our efforts going forward to convene difficult but necessary conversations across our campus on a range of issues. Even—and especially—during these troubling times, we must leverage our diverse backgrounds and perspectives, as well as our quest for knowledge and truth, to maintain an inclusive and empowering campus for all who enter.
Susan R. Wente
Provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs
Dr. André L. Churchwell
Vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer