You are here: American University President Announcements October 28, 2018

American University
Washington, DC

Memorandum October 28, 2018

AU Community
Sylvia M. Burwell, President
Response to PIttsburgh Shootings

We are deeply saddened by the shocking and senseless acts of violence that occurred yesterday at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pennsylvania. Media reports are calling this the worst single attack on American Jews in the history of this country and it follows a slew of hate crimes and anti-Semitic incidents over the past several years targeting Jewish communities. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families, as well as to the AU students, alumni, staff, and faculty who are hurt and grieving from the impact of this attack.

There will be a prayer vigil at the Kay Spiritual Life Center tomorrow, Monday, October 29, at 3:00 p.m., to grieve, support each other, and offer our solidarity to those affected by this terrible crime.

Acts of unimaginable hate like these bring about many emotions, including anger, fear, confusion, and sadness. If you would like to talk with someone about this, I urge you to seek support during the week by contacting the AU Counseling Center (202-885-3500; Mary Graydon Center, Room 214) for an appointment or stop by during their drop-in hours from 2:00-4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can also reach out to Jason Benkendorf of AU Hillel (202-885-3322;
Chaplains in the Kay Spiritual Life Center (202-885-3320) are available to assist community members as well, especially those in the Jewish community. Students who live in a residence hall can reach out any time to their Community Director or Resident Assistant, including nights and weekends, or visit the residence hall community desk for assistance. For academic issues, students may also talk with their academic advisor or stop by the Dean of Students Office (202-885-3300) during drop-in hours on Mondays and Fridays from 2-4 p.m. Faculty and staff can access support through the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (202-885-2593).

While this unspeakable tragedy has shocked and saddened us all, it is also an opportunity to remind ourselves of values that we hold dear at American University—mutual understanding and respect, support, and most of all, compassion.
Elie Wiesel said, “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” Today, all of us are with those in mourning. We stand with them. After this deadly act of anti-Semitic hate where Americans were exercising their right to worship freely, we stand for humanity, justice, and unity.