“We try to do the right thing at the right time,” said President Barbara Snyder at Tuesday evening’s community conversation about neo-Nazi flyers found over Thanksgiving break on campus.
She began the talk by addressing recent months’ disturbing spike in anti-Semitic acts across the country, where college campuses are being inundated with anti-Semitic and discriminatory graffiti and attacks on minority groups.
Various faculty, staff, community members and students from both the undergraduate and graduate schools were present to share their concerns and dialogue about what should be done next. In addition to Snyder, Vice President of Student Affairs Lou Stark; Vice President for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity Marilyn Mobley and Chief of Police Jay Hodge were present to answer any questions pertaining to their area of specialty.
Mobley called the crowd to action, sharing a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people, but the silence over that by the good people.”
A campus which rallied together after the shooting at the Pittsburgh synagogue is now facing its own version of discriminatory attacks, and the administration is reminding everyone that inaction is just as bad.
Stark brought attention to many efforts which have already been implemented to increase visibility of the Case Western Reserve University commitment to diversity. These include the Office for Multicultural Affairs and the Green Dot Program, in addition to programs such as the Sustained Dialogue program, diversity celebrations and days of dialogue, among others.
“We cannot fight hate speech with violence,” said Snyder in her talk. She also discussed, along with Hodge, the resources available for witnesses to be able to safely and effectively report anything they observe.
Different administrative offices spoke out as well, labelling themselves as resources for anyone who might need support. From Counseling Services to the LGBT Center to the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences and the Social Justice Institute, many on-campus organizations pledged themselves as available for anyone who might need somewhere to turn.
In addition to on-campus organizations, the administration and CWRU Police have partnered with the Anti-Defamation League to track nationwide trends and better learn how to prevent future occurrences.
Snyder expressed her wish to the audience to “not let this divide us or pit us against one another. That is the goal of the people who are putting up these flyers.” She noted that this is a trying time as a university and can either separate CWRU into factions or bring the community together.
While the administrative representatives recognized that they had to walk a fine line between calling too much attention to the issues occuring on campus—and therefore inspiring others to act similarly—and not doing enough to combat the problem, much of the audience seemed to agree that a public forum was a good starting place.
Timothy Black, co-director of the Social Justice Institute, said, “It is time for the University community to come together and reinforce who we are.”
“It is not your fault, but it is your responsibility,” added a Mandel School for Social Work graduate student.
Snyder reinforced the CWRU community’s responsibility to speak up and report observations of actions which goes against the University’s values of diversity, as well as making it known that particular category of behavior is not accepted on the campus.
“One of the reasons we had this community conversation was to remind students they should be proud of who they are,” she said.