Further Reflections on Violence in the Middle East

October 12, 2023

Dear All,

I find myself, at the end of this agonizing week, wanting to write again to the Vassar community about what is happening in Israel and Gaza. As more details of the brutal massacre of Israeli civilians at the hands of Hamas have emerged, it is impossible not to be disgusted by these brutal killings. I want to reiterate my denunciation of these atrocities. And now, the mounting loss of civilian life—both Palestinian lives and Israeli lives—leaves me sickened. We mourn the devastating loss of life. I have been hearing from so many in our community over the week who are outraged, anxious, and afraid, and this seems especially true for people with a personal connection to the region.

As I watch the way other colleges and universities are struggling at this time, I am concerned about our campus. Let me be clear: we have zero tolerance for discrimination or harassment based on religion or national origin. To be specific, we will not tolerate antisemitism, or anti-Israeli or anti-Palestinian prejudice on this campus. If you experience this kind of discrimination or harassment, please contact Dean Inoa or the Bias Incident Response Team.

Our responsibility as educators at this difficult, divisive time is to ensure all students feel safe and are not subject to acts of hatred and harassment. Above all, our work is to provide opportunities for learning that help us better understand and process world events. Being part of the Vassar community is to foster an environment that facilitates communication in ways that recognize our interdependent humanity and our shared pain in the face of unspeakable events and profound disagreements. 

I have asked Professor Jonathon Kahn, Director of Engaged Pluralism; Amanda Munroe, Director of Restorative Practices and Engaged Pluralism; and Reverend Samuel Speers, Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life and Contemplative Practices to convene a working group to design programming that can help our campus navigate these treacherous times in a humane and effective way.

We have faced difficulties on campus before brought on by external events. The events we face today are unprecedented in many ways and present significant challenges. As a college founded to provide access to the highest quality liberal arts education, we remain committed to fostering educated and caring people for a better collective future.

Elizabeth H. Bradley, President    
Vassar College    
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604