Written by Benji Bearman (Minnesota, ’97), Octagon Consul
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What is antisemitism? How is it impacting students on campus? What can be done to combat the pervasive antisemitism sweeping college campuses across North America? These questions were central themes of discussion at the recent Summit Against Hate. The summit, a three-part webinar, was sponsored by Sigma Alpha Mu in conjunction with Alpha Epsilon Phi, Sigma Delta Tau and Zeta Beta Tau. Campus professionals, fraternity/sorority staff and volunteers, along with undergraduates spent time together learning, examining and questioning as part of an effort to address the rise of antisemitism at universities and its impact on students. This program, a recipient of the North American Interfraternity Conference’s Laurel Wreath Award in 2020, is a hallmark of the educational endeavors of Sigma Alpha Mu.
Participants in the summit had the opportunity to hear from experts in the field, including Holly Huffnagle of the American Jewish Committee and Rabbi Sandra Lawson, Associate Chaplain for Jewish Life at Elon University. Undergraduate students from throughout North America also shared their experiences in confronting antisemitism. The powerful sessions provided both an historical context of antisemitism along with the intersection of other forms of hate and antisemitism on campus.
Drawing on the Fraternity’s heritage, it’s clear that there is an obligation for us to be at the forefront of these issues. We learn, “You are not obliged to finish the task, neither are you free to desist from it.” The roots of the Fraternity show the importance of tolerance, unity and acceptance of all, regardless of background. Programs such as the summit, as well as initiatives coming forth from the newly formed Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) Committee, show our ongoing commitment to pursuing these efforts. We must continue to strengthen our resolve and ensure that university campuses are safe for all students.
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