For the second time in less than a month, a Tufts student has been the victim of an act of naked, aggressive and invasive hate. On the night of Oct. 2, a student found a homophobic slur carved into their dorm room door. Just over two weeks ago, on Sept. 15, a student returned to their residence to find a swastika affixed to their door. A terrifying pattern of hate has emerged on our campus, where perpetrators feel bold enough to desecrate the living spaces of peers with symbols and messages of antisemitism and homophobia. We must stand up and defend our values, our unity and our humanity with vigor and with compassion; we must take a stand against cowardice, ignorance and bigotry.
As we began this fall semester, a parade mocking the Pride movement and LGBTQ rights wound its way through downtown Boston. New students were just concluding their orientation. Over the past few years, hate crimes and antisemitism have risen significantly in Massachusetts. Hate is rising in the nation and region at large and now in the Tufts community. This cannot stand. It will not stand.
Hate can often trace its roots to fear to ignorance, and for this reason we must be prepared to address recent events on two fronts. Now is not a time for any member of the Tufts community to keep silent.
First, we must be ready to act and speak in defense of our values. Bystander intervention can be effective both in reducing sexual assault and in addressing instances of bullying and harassment; we can deploy the same technique against hate, too. Intervention works best with clear communication and the knowledge that it is everyone’s responsibility to step up and help a friend, peer or stranger out of an intimidating situation. Today, and always, we must be ready to intervene and to correct course when hate enters the room.
Second, we must remain compassionate. When hate strikes, it is all too easy to become fearful and let ourselves become overwhelmed. We must not. What we must do instead is be kind to one another, and further, we must not strike back. This does not mean those who placed a symbol of genocide upon and carved a vicious slur into the doors of two of our friends’ rooms should go unpunished. These perpetrators should be quickly and permanently removed from Tufts, and the university must increase public messaging condemning hate. At the same time, we must not let our anger at the perpetrators of these acts overwhelm our compassion and support for the victims; it is important that they know all of us in this community will do what it takes to help them move past this trauma.
What has happened on our campus is shameful, and both incidents are acts of cowardice and ignorance. With a thoughtful and active initiative to encourage bystander intervention against all forms of hate, combined with community-wide compassion, we can stand up to those who seek to divide us. The Daily extends its love and support to the two students and to the Jewish and LGBTQ communities at Tufts who were the targets of these reprehensible attacks. Though hate has menaced our peers, it will not threaten our solidarity.
If you witness an act of hate or are a victim of harassment yourself, the Daily encourages you to reach out to resources on campus such as the Office of Equal Opportunity, Tufts University Police Department or a cultural or identity center.