Many problems can be averted by firm, clear communications by university leadership. It is imperative that university leaders personally, regularly and clearly articulate institutional values and emphasize, with great specificity, that anti-Semitism other forms of hate are inconsistent with the institution's norms and values. As the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has urged, "university leadership should set a moral example by denouncing anti-Semitic and other hate speech, while safeguarding all rights protected under the First Amendment and under basic principles of academic freedom."
San Jose State University President Condemns Swastikas
In September 2016, San Jose State University (SJSU) President Mary Papazian issued a powerful statement condemning two swastikas that were found in SJSU residence halls.
President Wim Wiemel's Statement Against BDS at Portland State University
In June 2016, Portland State University President Wim Wiemel issued an excellent statement condemning a proposed PSU Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution. He stated, "[t]he tone and tenor of the BDS movement has made members of our community feel unsafe and unwelcome at PSU, and it is not acceptable to marginalize or scapegoat them. Anti-Semitism cannot and will not be tolerated on our campus."
President Fry's Statement about Swastikas at Drexel
In 2015, Drexel University President John Fry issued an excellent statement condemning the use of swastikas and explaining their meaning in relationship to anti-Semitism with great clarity and specificity:
When vandals used Swastikas to deface flyers announcing a Louis D. Brandeis Center event at Northeastern University, President Joseph E. Aoun immediately issued a statement that is exemplary for its promptness, firmness, and specificity, as well as for the fact that President Aoun issued it personally while announcing that the university police department is actively investigating the case.
In March 2013, Oberlin College President Marvin Krislove canceled all classes at the college and urged all students, faculty and staff to attend a series of events in response to "a report of a person wearing a hood and robe resembling a KKK outfit" on the Oberlin campus.
Wheaton College President Ronald College issued an important statement to his campus community in response to anti-Semitic incidents. His statement is commendable for its promptness, directness, firmness, and specificity.
Canada's Honorable Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, issued an exemplary 2012 statement expressing concern about the prospect of anti-Semitic harassment during Israel Apartheid Week ((AW) on Canadian university campuses.
University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann firmly repudiated the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in this February 2012 public letter read aloud to the campus community on the occasion of a BDS conference conducted at President Gutmann’s university.
The Rutgers University academic senate issued a forceful 2004 resolution strongly disassociating itself from anti-Semitic content contained within a student-run university newspaper. Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick concurred with the senate resolution in his presidential statement expanding upon the Senate’s concerns.
Hon. Lawrence Summer, then-President of Harvard University, delivered an important address to the Harvard community, known as the Address at Morning Prayers, which announced that some forms of campus anti-Israelism are “anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.”
San Francisco State University President Robert Corrigan issued an important letter to his campus community on April 12, 2002, which has been given the title, “Hate Speech Not Free Speech.” This letter, as well as the related correspondence which it quotes, provide excellent examples of strong presidential leadership.
Professor Oren Gross Professor Oren Gross is the Irving Younger Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota Law School. He was a member of the faculty of the Tel Aviv University Law School in Israel from 1996 to 2002.