Hope Through Strengthening Community

Dear Campus Community,

The mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday morning is a stark reminder of the presence and persistence of anti-Semitism in the United States. In 2017, anti-Semitic incidents surged nearly 60% over the previous year, the largest single-year increase on record, and the second-highest number reported since the Anti-Defamation League started tracking anti-Semitic incidents in 1979 (anti-Semitic incidents report). More generally, hate crimes in the nation’s ten largest cities increased by 12% in 2017, reaching their highest level in more than a decade (Report to the Nation Hate Crimes Rise in U.S).

The tragedy in Pittsburgh adds to a distressingly familiar trend of domestic acts of terrorism directed at specific communities. Some recent examples include a racially-motivated killing of two African Americans in Kentucky two days ago; the bombing of the Dar Al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington, Minnesota in August 2017; the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017; the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida in June 2016; and the murder of nine African Americans at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina in June 2015. Sadly, there are many more.

These acts of violent hatred are designed to evoke terror and sow discord. They leave deep wounds on the affected community and test the very fabric of our diverse society. Now is a crucial time to strengthen the bonds that connect us as a campus community dedicated to inclusive excellence. There are several ways to reflect on what we have in common, to serve as a support to members of the affected community, and to harness our mission as a public university to confront extremism through research, teaching and service.

Expect Equity, Support Diversity, Practice Inclusion and Honor Free Speech,

Douglas M. Haynes
Vice Provost for Academic Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
Professor of History