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Friday, September 25, 2020
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Incident on Campus

Dear members of the Emerson community:

Regretfully, I am writing to inform you about an incident of hateful graffiti that marred our campus last night when four swastikas were found scrawled in stairwells at Piano Row. The graffiti was removed immediately.

The incident is currently under investigation, and the offender(s) are unknown at this time. Anyone with information about who is responsible for these acts should bring such information to the Emerson College Police Department (ECPD) at 617-824-8555.

Needless to say, this symbol, which was appropriated by fascists to represent and mobilize violence against Jews and millions of other marginalized people, is a form of hate speech. Defacing our campus with such a symbol is indefensibly abhorrent, and I ask all of you to join me in condemning it. Hate speech in any form is antithetical to the values that our community holds most dear.

At a time when anti-Semitism and other ugly forms of bias are on the rise around the world, the Emerson community needs to hold all the more strongly to our values, and to be united in our condemnation of it. We will not permit such virulent and offensive hate to define us or corrupt who we are and what we stand for as a community committed to equality and social justice. Our hope shall always be that, out of the rich diversity of human experience, we can continue to create a community of learning—one made both beautiful and effective by its pluralism, one that will turn the tide of human want into a sea of joy and light.

I have asked Jim Hoppe, Vice President and Dean of Campus Life; Sylvia Spears, Vice President for Equity and Social Justice; and Michaele Whelan, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, to work with Rev. Julie Avis Rogers, Director of Religious and Spiritual Life and Campus Chaplain, and campus groups to determine how to engage our community in our strongest denunciation of this hateful act.

We are also mindful of how deeply this incident may impact members of Emerson’s Jewish community. Staff from the Office of Student Life will be available on the fourth floor of 172 Tremont (Spiritual Life & Intercultural Student Affairs) tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, as well as during normal business hours tomorrow and Friday. In addition, Residence Education staff in Piano Row will be notifying residents of upcoming floor meetings. Of course, community members are welcome to connect with Student Life staff at any time.  In addition, please remember that staff in Residence Education, Emerson Counseling and Psychological Services (ECAPS), Healing and Advocacy, the Social Justice Center, Student Success, Student Care & Support and the Campus Life office are all available for counsel, support and connection.

Sincerely,

Lee Pelton

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