January 9, 2020
Dear Members of the AU Community,
I hope that all of you have been enjoying a wonderful break and will return to campus filled with new energy for the year to come.
As I reflect on the last month, I’d also like to acknowledge that a break from academic life, however welcome and refreshing, is not a break from being touched by the pain of the world around us.
The last month has brought more shocking incidents of hate that, for many of us, are deeply personal. The Jewish community has been targeted by a wave of hate crimes that has been particularly marked in the New York and New Jersey area, which is home to many of our students, families and alumni.
We also continue to see an increase nationally in anti-Semitic violence, harassment and vandalism, which are now at near-historic levels in the US. Reports of anti-Semitic incidents have nearly doubled since 2016, with almost 2,000 incidents a year recorded and confirmed by the Anti-Defamation League, impacting every state and DC.
It is vital that we recognize the vulnerabilities that many of us are feeling as a result of these hate crimes, the increase in many forms of intolerance, and the troubling times we live in. It is in these moments that we must reaffirm and live out our AU values of inclusion and human dignity and connect to each other as a community. Please remember, amid all the pressures of academic life and the daily drumbeat of the news, to take time to reach out and support one another.
As students, faculty and staff return to campus, we will be working closely with AUPD, the Office of the University Chaplain, Hillel, and other partners to ensure that safety protocols are in place, up to date, and widely disseminated. As always, anything suspicious should be reported by calling the AU Police Department’s non-emergency number (202-885-2527). There is also an anonymous tip line (ext. 2999.)
Please also know that we are here for you. Students with concerns impacting academic life can reach out to the Dean of Students Office (firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-885-3300.) Those who wish to connect with the Office of the University Chaplain and its chaplains, including Jason Benkendorf of AU Hillel (email@example.com; 202-885-3322), can stop by the Kay Spiritual Life Center, which is open to all members of the AU community.
Faculty are encouraged to contact Dean of Faculty Mary Clark (firstname.lastname@example.org; 202-885-2155) with any questions or concerns. Staff and faculty can also reach out to Dale Rampell, Faculty Staff Assistance Program (FSAP@american.edu; 202-885-2593.)
As we enter the 2020s, let us start the new semester and new decade by pledging to stand together against hate in all of its forms and work wholeheartedly to build an AU community of support, compassion, and justice.
Vice President of Campus Life & Inclusive Excellence