Follow-up on community conversation, National School Walkout and a teachable moment

This weekend our public space at Luther was violated when the hate symbols “KKK” and a swastika were stomped into the snow on the football field. As we proclaimed Sunday evening during our Litany of Solidarity on the football field, “We stand together,” against racism, antisemitism and hatred in all its forms.

I invite students, faculty and staff to participate in follow-up community conversations with members of Luther's College Ministries, Counseling Service, Diversity Center and President's office on Wednesday, March 14, in the Mott Room in Dahl Centennial Union, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5:30 to 7 p.m.

In our gathering Sunday evening, Luther community members shared their reactions and feelings of fear and concern for themselves, and their friends and colleagues. Others shared that they have not felt welcomed or included on this campus and called for Luther administration and the campus community to take tangible and immediate action to ensure that we truly are an inclusive and safe campus for all.

This week, Cabinet will identify the next steps we must take to address the concerns and issues raised. I will continue to provide updates on what we are hearing in the community conversations and the actions we are taking.

Campus Safety and Security is actively investigating every lead regarding the hate symbols imprinted in the snow on the football field Saturday night. We strongly encourage you to share any information you have with Campus Safety and Security at (563) 387-2111.

National School Walkout

Students at Luther are coordinating a 17-minute walkout on Wednesday, March 14, at 10 a.m. in honor of the 17 Parkland School shooting victims. They have shared the following announcement in the Bulletin and in the Tuesday.

National School Walkout: Join Educators for Social Justice and Student Senate in walking out of class at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 14, to stand in solidarity with the 17 victims of the Parkland school shooting as part of the #Enough! National School Walkout. Students, faculty, staff and administrators are welcome to meet on the steps of the CFL to remember, reflect and respond to the gun violence that is plaguing our schools.

I recognize that this walkout may create challenges for scheduled classes. We honor your right to protest, while at the same time we need to respect the course schedules and plans that faculty have developed. I am encouraging faculty, where possible, to make accommodations for you to participate in the walkout. I encourage you to contact your professor if you have questions or concerns about the impact of the timing of this walkout on scheduled course activities, including exams. 

Teachable moment

In a conversation yesterday, a Luther student told me that she learned the correct spelling of "antisemitism" in a class last semester. In our publications, we had been using "anti-Semitism" in adherence with the Associated Press style guide. However, in my conversation with this student and in further conversation with some faculty and staff, we've learned that there has been a movement by scholars who study antisemitism to eliminate the hyphen and use a lower case "s." Among these scholars and members of the Jewish community, there is concern that the hyphen and capital "S" can erase or obscure the fact that antisemitism is specifically a form of racism directed against Jews, not Semites.

This moment is another example of why I love this community. We challenge each other to learn and grow every day through constructive communication and a willingness to listen and learn.

For more information on why the International Holocaust Remembrance Associate encourages a correction of spelling "antisemitism," go to: https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/sites/default/files/memo-on-spelling-of-antisemitism_final-1.pdf.