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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Antisemitism task force report released

By Laura Place

After being finalized and submitted to President Sabah Randhawa over a month ago, Western’s antisemitism report was released to students and faculty Tuesday morning at 11:36 a.m.

The 32-page final task report was written by Western’s Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Antisemitism. The report focuses on the need for intentional discussion around discrimination, with specific emphasis on antisemitism.

The Western Front published an article questioning the delay in the report’s release Tuesday morning.

President Sabah Randhawa was interviewed about the report by the Front on April 13.

“Part of the reason I have been waiting is that I wanted to meet with the task force just to thank them and just to make sure that I fully understand what the recommendations are,” President Randhawa said.

Both the report and the task force came in response to a series of antisemitic incidents on campus during the 2016 winter quarter. Former Western President Bruce Shepard formed the task force in spring of 2016 to address antisemitism as a distinct issue on campus.

The report is broken into four main sections: a discussion of antisemitism in historical contexts and on college campuses, a list of “promising practices” in preventing and responding to discrimination, input from the university community and a reiteration of final core recommendations.

Responses from faculty in the report called on the university to be better educated about all forms of hate speech, and suggested broadening employee training to include topics of discrimination, including antisemitism.

The report also describes group members meeting with Rabbi Joshua Samuels of Congregation Beth Israel and Rabbi Avremi Yarmush of Chabad House. The Rabbis described how incidents of antisemitic behavior are frequently underreported because of the general lack of understanding of antisemitism on campus.

Further along, the report outlines “Core Practices for Preventing and Responding to Antisemitism” as follows:

  • Clear Institutional Policies and Definitions
  • Transparent Reporting and Response Protocols
  • Focused Education and Training
  • Strengthen and Develop Interconnected Practice
  • Engaged Community Discourse
  • Support Leadership Development

The task force is made up of 14 members, four of whom are students. The report states the task force was to be dissolved once the recommendations were sent to chair Sue Guenter-Schlesinger, before being sent to the president.

Editor’s note: Antisemitism is written without a hyphen in this article in accordance with the taskforce’s  wishes expressed in the report.

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