Community Update

Thursday, May 20, 2021
Dear Drexel Hillel Community Members,
Regretfully I must inform you that, over the last twenty-four hours, two separate swastikas were discovered in one of the residence halls, anonymously drawn on surfaces in public areas. Such symbols of antisemitism run contrary to the values of our University and compromise the sense of safety and shared community that all students, staff and faculty should feel on campus. Hillel staff have been in close communication with University administrators about this public display of antisemitism. We have been assured that all means available are being used to investigate this incident. I remain confident that the University administration and staff continue to be strong allies and partners in combating hate in general, and antisemitism in particular, at Drexel.
These swastikas defiled our campus at a time of incredible turbulence for our Jewish community. As violent conflict has continued between Israel and Hamas, and as antisemitic material has circulated even more widely on social media, many of our students have reported experiencing significant anxiety, frustration and concern. When antisemitic graffiti comes to our campus, it provokes further anxiety and fear and erodes the feelings of safety Jewish students should be able to expect on campus. At Hillel, part of our mission is to be a space of safety for Jewish community, and to advocate for our Jewish students to ensure that all of Drexel’s campus remains safe and welcoming. We will continue to work with students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends to ensure that incidents like these are properly addressed and that Drexel remains a safe place for Jewish students to study, live and celebrate Jewish life.
Importantly, each of us – most particularly students, faculty and staff on the ground on campus – must work to prevent antisemitism, bias and hate motivated acts on campus and to promote cultures of understanding, tolerance and respect among our peers. If we see or hear antisemitic, or other bias or hate-based acts or grafitti we must not be silent. If we encounter antisemitic statements made by members of the Drexel community on social media, it is important to report those statements. If you need to report an incident of discrimination and/or harassment (on campus or online from a Drexel community member), please contact the Office of Equality and Diversity at oed@drexel.edu or by using the Office of Equality and Diversity’s Incident Report Form. Members of the Hillel staff are always available to talk through concerning incidents and/or help students with official reporting.
As always, the Hillel staff is available to meet with students one on one or in groups to process questions or concerns regarding this issue. Given this campus incident, the current crisis in Israel, and the rise in online and physical antisemitic attacks in recent days across the globe, Drexel Hillel is also convening a virtual space for students to gather this evening via Zoom at 8pm. Finally, students, faculty and staff who are interested in working with University leaders to proactively address campus climate concerns related to antisemitism are invited to reach out to me to get involved in this work (idekoninck@drexelhillel.org).
With blessings of peace and healing,
Rabbi Isabel
Rabbi Isabel de Koninck
Executive Director and Campus Rabbi, Hillel at Drexel University