You are here: American University President Announcements April 26, 2022

AU Memo Letterhead

Dear AU Community,

With the conclusion of classes and the start of exams, this is an incredibly busy time for our students, faculty, and staff. While we are all focused on a successful finish to this academic year, broader events throughout our community and our world require our continued attention and work.

One of those areas is the vile and sadly ongoing scourge of antisemitism, which has created terrible pain for centuries. There are increasing incidents around the country and the world, and we unfortunately have faced previous examples in our own community. Last week, more than 70 AU leaders participated in an education session with the Anti-Defamation League learning about the latest developments and opportunities to confront antisemitism. I also recently attended a program with other university presidents co-sponsored by the American Council on Education, Hillel International, and the American Jewish Committee where we discussed how universities can proactively engage on this critical topic.

Let me state unequivocally—we reject antisemitism and hatred at American University. It is antithetical to our values, our pursuit of inclusive excellence, our learning environment, and who we are as changemakers and people. Antisemitism can take many forms, at times clearly featuring hateful language or symbols, in other instances involving more complicated issues, and regrettably spilling into violence at other times. There are other examples where speech or actions may not appear antisemitic to the person advancing the message but can still contribute to a hostile environment rather than fostering the kind of productive dialogue we all desire. Regardless of how antisemitism manifests, it is vital that we recognize its impact and harm to the our community and strive to address its root causes. To learn more about antisemitism and how we can stand against hate, the Anti-Defamation League has extensive resources on its website. Educating about antisemitism and creating a welcoming environment for our Jewish community members is an important part of our inclusive excellence strategy. There is much more work to do, and we are dedicated to our ongoing efforts that promote learning, inclusion, dignity, civil discourse, and community.

American University strives to be a place of respectful dialogue on complex issues, with the objective of education and learning. We believe in cross-cultural engagement as a foundation of a welcoming community. Our academic and scholarly pursuits—including the Center for Israel Studies, the Jewish Studies Program, and the Intercultural and International Communication program, among many others—advance interdisciplinary and inclusive studies to create greater understanding and provide opportunities for people of different backgrounds and perspectives to come together in a shared pursuit of knowledge. Our diverse spectrum of programming across campus promotes intergroup dialogue and opportunities to learn about one another. Rejecting antisemitism involves understanding the issues that can lead to this intolerance, confronting acts of bias against the Jewish community when they occur, and constructively addressing issues where there may be substantive and respectful disagreements. It is critical that all our work and engagements begin with a common belief that discrimination and bigotry have no place in our community.

I want to thank our community for your commitment to inclusivity, respect, and tolerance. While these topics are difficult, by working together we can learn, grow, and continue building the AU community that we all seek.