Campus anti-Semitism survey and focus groups seek to understand environment at Tufts

University-wide emails from the president’s office were sent on September 14 and September 21 To invite current students and graduates of the class of 2021 to participate in a survey assessing student impressions of anti-Semitism on campus.

Regardless of their religious affiliation, the administration encouraged students to discuss incidents of anti-Semitism they have witnessed or heard about, and those who responded to the survey were also invited to subscribe to discussion groups. The investigation ended on October 1.

Patrick Collins, Executive Director of Public Relations, describes the appropriateness of this survey.

“Unfortunately, there has been a worrying increase in anti-Semitism nationally and on college campuses across the country, and Tufts is not immune to this trend,” Collins said. said in an email to The Daily.

According to Collins, the aim of the investigation is to better understand how the increase in anti-Semitism manifests itself in Tufts and to propose solutions to deal with it.

The purpose of the survey is to learn from the undergraduate student community – not just those who identify as Jewish – about anti-Semitism at Tufts, ” Collins said.

The university has partnered with the consultancy firm TCC Group develop the survey and facilitate discussion groups. According to the email, Hillel International was also involved in the design of the survey, although the Hillel’s Tufts chapter was not involved.

In addition to the survey, various campus stakeholders were interviewed, according to Collins.

The survey and focus groups follow up on recent anti-Semitic acts on the Tufts campus, in particular the vandalism of mezuzot student. Collins said that despite work continuing, the Tufts University Police Department has yet to identify the culprits.

“We want to know who is responsible and we want to help the targeted students know that they are not alone, that they are part of our community and that we support them” Collins said.

Rabbi Naftali Brawer, Jewish chaplain and executive director of Tufts Hillel, discussed the damage caused by the mezuzah vandalism and the seriousness of the investigation.

“[The mezuzah] is a Jewish symbol. And it is a sacred article … an identity marker. So having that, at first glance, vandalized, is really painful ”, said Brawer. “[The survey] is a very sad but important exercise that we must undertake.

Brewer said there had been too many incidents to consider them as isolated events.

“I don’t want us to turn negative [or] discouraged, but we can’t ignore these things and they need to be called out, ”Brawer said.

Creating a safe environment for all members of the Tufts community, regardless of their identity, is a priority for the university, according to Collins.

“Tufts’ administration and board care deeply that the university provides an environment for all members of the community to live, learn and work without discrimination or prejudice.” Collins said. “Our hope is that these incidents never happen at Tufts, but when they do, we need to make it clear that we find them to be wrong, that they have no place at Tufts and that we will not allow them to. create divisions in our community. “

The response from the wider Tufts community has been encouraging for Brewer.

“There is some ugly stuff going on, it’s part of the story. … But there is another side of the story which is, how is the community reacting? ” said Brawer. “The response from the wider Tufts community, staff and students has been overwhelmingly positive. And so I think it’s been really helpful in putting that, not entirely behind us, but putting it in perspective. “

Brawer also pointed out that investigating campus anti-Semitism and its causes is meaningful to the entire Tufts community.

“Anti-Semitism is often the canary in a mine” Brawer said. “When anti-Semitism is allowed to flourish, other types of hatred quickly follow. … The way the Jewish community is treated… reflects the whole community of Tufts and speaks to the type of community we are building here.

As Tufts works to tackle anti-Semitism on campus, Brawer is intrigued to see what the results of the investigation bring.

“It’s something the university as a whole has to face. And this investigation seems like a really serious struggle with it. So I would watch it with interest ”, Brewer noted.

It is not known when the results of the investigation will be released, Collins said.

“A summary of the results of the survey, interviews and focus groups will be shared with the Tufts community when available” Collins said. “There is no time frame for when this will happen; we want the committee to take all the time it needs to do its job.

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