LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Two Michigan state representatives have published a letter condemning antisemitism and Islamophobia, as concerns rise over incidents of both potentially breaking out on college campuses and elsewhere amid Israel’s war against Hamas.
The letter was penned by State Rep. Samantha Steckloff (D-Farmington Hills), chair of the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee, and State Rep. Carol Glanville (D-Walker), chair of the House Higher Education Committee, and was addressed to presidents, chancellors and board members on college campuses.
Urging Awareness of Heightened Antisemitism on Michigan’s College Campuses
October 20, 2023
Dear Presidents, Chancellors, and Board Members,
We hope this letter finds you safe and well. We write to you today to address a concern we have of growing hate in xenophobia, especially antisemitism and islamophobia, on the campuses of our state’s higher education institutions and, more importantly, as it is impacting our students.
The renewed escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after the horrific attack by Hamas has had a significant and profound impact on Israelis, Palestinians, civilians in Gaza, and Jews and Palestinians globally. The situation is dire and has the potential to erupt into a full-scale war and severe humanitarian crisis. I have been, and continue to be, outspoken that as global citizens, it is our moral responsibility to remain informed and empathetic to the suffering of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.
Sadly, it has come to our attention that the ongoing tensions in the Middle East have led to a concerning increase in antisemitism and islamophobia, particularly on college campuses across our great state. It is crucial for us to recognize the importance of maintaining a safe, inclusive, and welcoming educational environment for all students, regardless of their background or beliefs.
As a Jewish leader in Michigan, I know first-hand the impact anti-Semitic remarks, symbols, and rhetoric have had on my ability to do my job. Completely throwing me off kilter, I have to put the safety and protection of my physical person ahead of the things I should be focusing on in the course of my normal day.
The same is very true for students: our higher education institutions are meant to be bastions of knowledge, understanding, and tolerance; beacons of enlightenment and havens for discovery. These ideals and achievements become impossible for students who are forced to become preoccupied trying to stay safe.
It is our shared duty to ensure that our campuses remain free from any form of hatred, discrimination, or prejudice. In light of these developments, we must come together to address these concerns head-on and take proactive measures to mitigate the rise of hate on our campuses.
We urge you, as a leader of your institution, to consider implementing the following steps:
- Promote Inclusivity: Foster an inclusive campus culture that embraces diversity and encourages open dialogue on sensitive topics. This can be achieved through the development of educational programs, workshops, and events that promote understanding and tolerance.
- Support Affected Communities: Show solidarity with those affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its repercussions, including particular support for Jewish and Palestinian students and faculty. Offer support mechanisms such as counseling services, safe spaces for discussion, and resources for affected individuals.
- Educate and Inform: Encourage a well-rounded understanding of the broader conflict in the Middle East by providing accurate and unbiased information. Promote the importance of peaceful dialogue, empathy, and conflict resolution.
- Safety and Security: Ensure the safety of all students and staff by addressing and reporting any incidents of hate, discrimination, or harassment promptly. Collaborate with local law enforcement when necessary to protect your campus community. While we must safeguard our rights to free speech, we must also be mindful that speech can become incendiary and harmful.
- Community Engagement: Engage with local communities and religious organizations to build bridges and promote interfaith and intercultural dialogues. Establish partnerships with relevant groups in your communities to facilitate a greater understanding of different perspectives.
By taking these steps, you can help create an environment that promotes unity, tolerance and mutual respect. This not only enhances the educational experience for your students but also upholds the values of our state and our nation.
As the Chairs of Higher Education in the House, we are committed to supporting your institution in these endeavors. Please feel free to reach out to our offices should you require any additional resources or assistance in addressing these matters. Together, we can make a positive impact on the lives of our students and contribute to a more inclusive and harmonious society. I look forward to your cooperation and leadership on this matter.
Representative Samantha Steckloff
Chair, House Higher Education Appropriations
Representative Carol GlanvilleState Rep. Samantha Steckloff and State Rep. Carol Glanville
Chair, House Higher Education”