Dear University President Anthony Monaco, Provost and Senior Vice President Nadine Aubry, Dean of the School of Engineering Jianmin Qu, Dean of Student Affairs ad interim Nancy Thompson and Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences James Glaser,
We hope that this letter finds you, your families and your communities safe and in good health at this difficult time. As tenured Tufts faculty, we write with dismay to learn that you have written a statement disapproving of the granting of the Collaboration Award from the Office for Campus Life to Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and that you have baselessly associated these students — our students and your students — with antisemitism.
The award recognized Tufts SJP’s work to “break down barriers between diverse student populations and foster greater communication between different organizations on campus.” SJP students worked with a diverse coalition of at least 20 student organizations on a campaign to “End the Deadly Exchange,” including many organizations of students of color and a Jewish student organization. This campaign was spurred by former Tufts University Police Department chief Kevin Maguire’s attendance of a “counterterrorism seminar” in Israel in 2017. In early 2018, a letter signed by more than 200 people, including 39 faculty and staff members and 111 students, protested Tufts’ participation in this controversial trip. The SJP “End the Deadly Exchange” campaign “unequivocally opposes military-training trips for police and demands justice and accountability.” On a national level, the Deadly Exchange campaign against U.S-Israeli police partnerships is led by the respected organization Jewish Voice for Peace.
Ungrounded insinuations of antisemitism not only impugn students’ principled political work, but also harm their well-being and may even put them at risk for harassment. While real antisemitism is on the rise, as are other forms of racism, false intimations of antisemitism undermine true coalition-building against this dangerous and reprehensible rise of racism.
We recognize the extraordinary challenges of this period and the very hard work you are doing to sustain the health of Tufts University and ensure that we can continue to meet our mission of being a community of “creative scholars [who] generate bold ideas, innovate in the face of complex challenges and distinguish [ourselves] as active citizens of the world.” Your statement undermines valued members of our community as they are learning to be active citizens, and it undermines also the university’s goals of inclusivity and attracting diverse students. We note that over 35 student organizations have condemned your statement, representing many diverse constituencies. We ask that you rescind your statement and apologize to Tufts SJP and the other student organizations who have taken part in this campaign.
Elizabeth Ammons, Department of English*
Amahl Bishara, Department of Anthropology
Ken Garden, Department of Religion, Middle Eastern Studies
Soha Hassoun, Department of Computer Science
Ray Jackendoff, Department of Philosophy
Richard Jankowsky, Department of Music
Paul Joseph, Department of Sociology
Gary Leupp, Department of History
John Lurz, Department of English
Kris Manjapra, Department of History, Department of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora
Steven Marrone, Department of History
Helen Marrow, Department of Sociology
John McDonald, Department of Music
Noe Montez, Department of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies
Adlai Murdoch, Department of Romance Studies
Sarah Pinto, Department of Anthropology
Kamran Rastegar, Department of International Literary and Cultural Studies, Center for the Humanities at Tufts
Nadim Rouhana, Fletcher School
Modhumita Roy, Department of English
Rosalind Shaw, Department of Anthropology
Joseph Walser, Department of Religion
Adriana Zavala, Department of History of Art and Architecture
* Affiliations for identification purposes only