You are here: American University President Announcements January 25, 2023

AU Memo Letterhead

Dear AU Community,

Like you, we are troubled by the rise of hate and bias incidents in society, including the scourge of antisemitism. It is a challenge we all must address because antisemitism is never acceptable at AU or anywhere. Fostering the sense of belonging we all value is a priority for us and our entire community. During the fall semester, we had numerous engagements on this important topic and indicated we would update the community on our work. Today we want to share with you the steps we have taken to confront antisemitism on our campus and improve our understanding of these important issues.

Our ongoing work is based on our deeply held values of respect and inclusive excellence. We have organized efforts in key areas including education and training, curriculum development, and partnerships and events.

In education and training, we are engaging with faculty and staff experts to share expertise and research with the community. For example, the Center for Teaching, Research and Learning (CTRL) and Professor Cynthia Miller-Idriss hosted a workshop on how to identify and disrupt hate in the classroom, which featured the toolbox created by Professor Miller-Idriss and the Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL). We also have educational programs for residence assistants and student leaders planned for this spring on disrupting bias, responding to discrimination, and restorative justice practices. A team from Residence Life, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, and other offices will use the feedback and results to refine content for broader use in fall 2023.

To expand learning opportunities for students, we are exploring ways to bring lessons on antisemitism into our curriculum development. A pilot project now underway will continue integrating antisemitism content into the AUx first year seminar. We anticipate gaining helpful insights from this initial effort that will inform future learning endeavors.

Finally, partnerships and campus events will help to expand our understanding of antisemitism and offer community-wide engagements. We are working with the Anne Frank Center USA to bring a traveling exhibit to AU and train peer facilitators for community discussions on antisemitism, racism, and prejudice. Any community member interested in the Anne Frank Center project, especially students interested in serving as peer facilitators, can attend an initial interest meeting at 1 p.m on February 1.

In addition to these engagements, our team continued investigating the antisemitic graffiti found in Anderson Hall last September. AUPD spoke with the individuals involved and potential witnesses. The call to the community and beyond did not yield actionable information or evidence. After exhausting all available options, it has not been possible to identify a responsible party. If any new information comes to light, we will pursue it, but unless that occurs, we are afraid the investigation is closed.

The journey to the inclusive AU and society we all want requires our commitment and action every day. It is about living our values. We have more work to do, and we will continue our efforts to support our community.


Sylvia M. Burwell

Fanta Aw
Vice President of Undergraduate Enrollment, Campus Life, and Inclusive Excellence

Amanda Taylor
Assistant Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion