On Tuesday, University President Ronald J. Daniels and Provost Sunil Kumar emailed the Hopkins community that swastika graffiti had been found in a dormitory elevator at the Peabody Institute. The University condemned this act of antisemitism, which has been officially labeled as a hate crime. It is being investigated by the Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) and federal law enforcement.
This troubling news is not the first reported incident of antisemitism at Hopkins this month. Unfortunately, these incidents are not unique to our university but represent a larger, deeply concerning trend. Both nationally and internationally, antisemitism has risen in recent years. QAnon conspiracies, rooted in long-established antisemitic tropes, are now represented in Congress. Just three weeks ago, antisemitic sentiment ran rampant at the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, where one rioter wore a T-shirt reading “Camp Auschwitz.”
In its annual audit, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found that between 2018 and 2019, antisemitic incidents in the U.S. increased by 12% to the highest number the ADL has ever counted since it began tracking them in 1979.
This trend continued into 2020; this past December, antisemitic attacks occurred every night of Hanukkah. Two of these incidents occurred on college campuses.
We appreciate that the University is acknowledging antisemitism in both the Hopkins community and nationwide, and we join it in unequivocally condemning acts of hate.
Earlier this month, OIE began investigating a teaching assistant who tweeted about wanting to fail a Zionist student. Although the tweets appear to be facetious, it is grossly inappropriate to joke about lowering a student’s grade based on any assumption about them.
Hateful incidents, no matter the scale at which they are committed, must be called out and condemned in the moment to prevent them from becoming ignored, commonplace and accepted.
We are glad the University is taking recent incidents seriously, and we thank those who brought them to light. We urge anyone who encounters similar incidents to report them, too.
In turn, we need transparency from the University about the investigations into these acts of hate. On July 3, 2020, Daniels announced that a noose — a symbol of violence against Black Americans — was discovered on University-owned property. Subsequently, OIE and the FBI launched an investigation into the incident.
There have been no updates about the investigation’s findings since September. We understand that investigations take time, but regular communication throughout the course of an inquiry could create greater accountability and foster a more comfortable environment for all members of our community.
Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day, the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camps in 1945. We hope that this day serves as a reminder that discrimination must be dealt with swiftly and forcefully. Decades later, we must continue to call out these incidents when we see them. As Hopkins students, we all have a responsibility to lead the fight against hate in our community.