You are here: American University President Announcements September 21, 2021

AU Memo Letterhead

Dear AU Community,

I want to address the ongoing concerns and hurt in our community regarding antisemitism and the graffiti found in a lower-level bathroom of Anderson Hall. Antisemitism has no place in our community. The appearance of such vile sentiments causes great pain, and our priority is to support our Jewish community members and effectively address bias incidents. The fact that the graffiti was found during the solemn period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur made this situation even more troubling.

We know that we must do better in these difficult situations, from educating about the terrible history and ongoing impacts of antisemitism to how we communicate about these matters. I apologize for the use of the word “possible” in our initial characterization of the graffiti. We sought to be cautious in our communication as the investigation was in its early stages and information was still being collected and reviewed. However, regardless of the intent of those responsible for the graffiti, its existence caused pain and trauma for members of our community. We first and foremost should have acknowledged that, and our message created additional hurt in an already difficult time.

The investigation is inconclusive regarding who is responsible for the graffiti, their intent, or when it occurred. There have been no previous reports of graffiti in that area to AUPD, the Office of Equity and Title IX, or Housing and Residence Life. It is possible that the graffiti may have been in the bathroom stall for some time, as there was no evidence of fresh carving or shavings where it was found. Interviews yielded no further information about the source of the graffiti or when it occurred. While the investigation may be inconclusive, the pain caused by the graffiti is real and unacceptable.

We are concerned about any behavior or actions that targets our Jewish community at AU, and we are committed to confronting antisemitism in all forms. We are convening small groups of stakeholders and experts from our community to further discuss these matters and the path forward for additional education and response. In the past year, we added two new classes on this history of antisemitism. Additionally, we are engaging external experts such as the Anti-Defamation League to help us in these efforts. I ask that community members continue to report any bias-related incidents to the Office of Equity and Title IX and respond to follow up requests from the office. This is the best way to ensure these matters are addressed, and the process is fundamental to our work and creating a greater sense of belonging and community.

Difficult situations like these not only test our resolve, but also give us the opportunity to continue building the more inclusive AU that we all want. To our Jewish community members, we are here for you. We are committed to making the progress and improvement that we know is needed.