One of the most important roles of a leading liberal arts college is to help its students learn to research, analyze, and delve deeply into critical issues -- forming their own opinions while learning to respectfully listen to and engage those with whom they may disagree.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains one of the most challenging issues of our time. It has spurred vigorous debate on the Vassar campus, as on many other campuses. President Hill has officially addressed the importance of this dialogue living up to Vassar’s principles of respectful and non-discriminatory exchange.
Similarly President Hill has also communicated about the BDS advocacy movement (boycott, divest, and sanction) that seeks to bring political and economic pressure to bear on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her comments resulted from two BDS initiatives in recent years. One initiative originated from academia and another from some Vassar students. In both cases President Hill has unequivocally stated the college’s opposition to these and other political boycotts. She has also emphasized the importance of respectful community engagement on difficult issues.
Moreover, Vassar has taken a considerable number of steps in the past two years to strengthen campus discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to help students, faculty, and staff better understand each other’s varied views and experiences related to this complex subject. These include workshops and programs on such subjects as anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, non-violent communication, free speech and hate speech, and facilitating discussion around controversial issues. In many cases these efforts have resulted from the college’s recent Dialogue and Engagement Across Differences project.
Outlined below for easy access are links to the statements made by President Hill, and to information about related efforts that Vassar has undertaken:
- President Hill affirms that Vassar does not support BDS movement (March 2016)
- President Hill on racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination (November 2015)
- President Hill and Dean of the Faculty Chenette Regarding Academic Boycotts (January 2014)
- Video of campus lecture by Israeli journalist Ari Shavit (April 2016)
- Article about campus lecturer and Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid (February 2016)
- Audio of online “webinar” about campus Israeli-Palestinian issues, held for Vassar alumnae/i and parents by President Hill, William Plapinger, chair of the Vassar Board of Trustees, other senior officials, and Vassar faculty members (February 2016)
- Video of campus conversation with imam Abdullah Antepli of Duke University and professor Yehezkel Landau of the Hartford Seminary (November 2015)
- Information on events and programs sponsored by Vassar’s Dialogue and Engagement Across Differences program (November 2014-present)