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Saturday, May 8, 2021

President waited month to release antisemitism report

By Taylor Nichols

Update: President Sabah Randhawa sent an email releasing the report from the Task Force on Preventing and Responding to Antisemitism at 11:36 a.m. on Tuesday, May 2.

Despite being submitted one month ago, a report compiled by Western’s antisemitism task force on how to address issues of discrimination on campus has still not been released.

The task force was created by Western’s former president, Bruce Shepard, in response to reports of antisemitic incidents on campus in the 2015-16 school year.

Sue Guenter-Schlesinger, head of the Equal Opportunity Office, sent the completed report to President Sabah Randhawa and the rest of the task force on March 31. In an interview with The Western Front on April 13, President Randhawa said he has been waiting to release the report.

“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, but we intend to get them out,” Randhawa said.

The university intends to release the report before spring quarter ends, Paul Cocke, Western’s director of communications and marketing, said in an email.

Junior Julianna Jackson is a student representative on the task force.

“I think that was an interesting choice for him to make, because I do think people should be allowed to see this,” she said. “But I also understand that he wanted to make sure everything was okay, because I’m sure that once it is released he’ll be getting more questions about it.”

Jackson said she often voiced concerns about antisemitism on campus to the Equal Opportunities Office, and believes these kinds of efforts led to the task force’s creation.

“It really does feel like Sabah cares, and that he really is working to take this into consideration,” she said. “I’m not exactly sure why, beyond that, it should take so long [to release the report].”

Jackson said the task force met with the president April 24 to go over the report.

One of the main recommendations they put in the report was to train university employees, including the Associated Student Board members and resident advisers, on how to recognize antisemitism, she said.

President Randhawa said the report also recommended developing clear institutional policies and values surrounding the topic.

There were four student representatives on the 14-member task force.

These students were Jackson; Wayne Rocque, the current AS vice president for student life; Emma Palumbo, the AS vice president for student life for the 2015-16 school year and student at large Naomi Edelstein.

However, Jackson said student representation on the task force was not consistent.

“Proportionately, [it’s] a little ridiculous that there was so little student input on an issue that impacts us so much,” Jackson said.

Jackson was abroad fall quarter 2016, and student representative Naomi Edelstein was not active in the task force this quarter.

Note: The article has been updated to use the task force’s preferred version of the word antisemitism without the hyphen, which is explained in the task force report.


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