Brown RISD Hillel condemns this action. There is no place for this kind of behavior on a college campus or anywhere. Rather than divide us, those who sought to intimidate or threaten us have instead brought us together and strengthened our resolve.
While this incident is extremely upsetting, the Hillel community is handling it with as much sensitivity and compassion as possible. Executive Director Marshall Einhorn went to Marcy Hall immediately upon learning of the events. Rabbi Michelle Dardashti provided support by telephone. The doors of Brown RISD Hillel remain open, and Mr. Einhorn, Rabbi Dardashti and the rest of Brown RISD Hillel’s staff continue to be available to students whenever, wherever and however needed.
As the student center for Jewish life on College Hill, we are grateful for the outpouring of support which has been and is being offered to those affected by this hatred in varying ways and confident that the entire Brown and Rhode Island School of Design community will emerge stronger for it.
The response from the University administration has been exemplary. In the early morning hours after the graffiti were discovered, Brown’s Office of Campus Life and Student Services arranged a range of support services and protections. Opportunities for students to gather and try to work through this ugliness were scheduled for March 18 at the LBGTQ Center and at Hillel. Public Safety is taking appropriate action to investigate this hate crime and to keep the campus safe.
We are especially grateful to President Paxson and her office for their efforts and support and her statement of outrage regarding the vandalism at Marcy Hall. The people and organizations joining in solidarity with the Jewish and the LBGTQIA+ communities are too numerous to name, but we want to thank publicly Mary Grace Almandrez, Interim Assistant Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services and Associate Dean of the College, who oversaw the rapid response and attention to student needs, University Chaplain, the Reverend Janet Cooper Nelson for her warm and heartfelt personal message and Associate University Chaplain for the Muslim Community, Adnan Adrian Wood-Smith, and the Brown Muslim Students Association Executive Board for their strong statement of solidarity and offer of support. The Brown RISD Hillel Student Executive Board and the two fraternities in Marcy Hall also have issued statements.
Brown students are strong and resilient, and with the help of Hillel’s and the University’s staffs and resources, they are working through the issues raised by this hateful event. Many members of the community joined us for Shabbat services and dinner on Friday night, including President Paxson and the Reverend Cooper Nelson who rearranged their schedules to be able to share that important evening with us.
No one should ever have to go through this type of experience. However, we hope that this incident will be as isolated as it was ugly. We are confident that Brown RISD Hillel, the LBGTQIA+ community and the entire Brown and RISD community will rise above the hatred.
Brown and RISD remain extraordinary places to be Jewish. The Brown RISD Hillel space is one in which Jews of various political and sexual orientations and diverse gender and ethnic identities come together meaningfully for meals, prayer, learning and celebration. While the emotions of these horrible events hopefully will fade like the graffiti on our walls, the memories of the support we are receiving from the community will be upon our hearts.
For further information:
Executive Director, Brown RISD Hillel
Hillel on Facebook: www.facebook.com/hillelbrownrisd
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