Letter to Emory President Claire Sterk
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Letter to Emory President Claire Sterk

April 9, 2019


VIA EMAIL: csterk@emory.edu


Claire E. Sterk, PhD

President, Emory University

408 Administration Building

201 Dowman Drive

Atlanta, Georgia 30322


Dear President Sterk,

We write on behalf of StandWithUs (SWU), an international, non-profit, Israel education organization, in regard to the anti-Semitic mock eviction notices (notices) recently posted on doors in residential halls and off campus apartment buildings throughout Emory University (“Emory” or the “University”). These notices falsely accuse Israel of racism and ethnic cleansing in order to maintain an exclusively Jewish state. As egregious as these notices were, worse yet is that they were approved by the Office of Residence & Housing Approval and literally carried Emory’s official logo on them as a stamp of approval.


We commend you for your statement on April 5, 2019, in which you denounce anti-Semitism and apologize for the pain caused by the hateful messaging contained in these notices. We agree that free speech and academic freedom are paramount to the dignity of your campus community; however, so too is the responsibility of university leaders to use their own First Amendment rights to condemn hate and promote a truly comprehensive learning environment for Emory’s entire community.


We urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure that all Emory students, including Israeli and Jewish students, are treated as valuable members of the campus community, free from bigotry and discrimination, and with the full support of the administration. This includes, at a minimum, imposing appropriate sanctions against the students responsible for posting the mock eviction notices and revising University policies to eliminate the use of the Emory logo to approve messages other than those of the University, so as to avoid any appearance that the University supports or condones the hate speech of others.


The Office of Residence Life and Housing Operations Housing Policy governs on campus residential community living at Emory. Residence Hall Policy 1.10, Emory’s residential community “Posting Policy,” states that “[f]lyers may not be posted on painted surfaces, doors, glass surfaces, or elevators.” The statement makes it unambiguously clear that the posting of these notices on residential hall doors violates Emory’s Posting Policy.


Emory’s Undergraduate Code of Conduct applies to all undergraduate students. Provision I(g) expressly states that violations of residential hall policies established by the Office of Residence Life & Housing violates the Code of Conduct. Consequently, the posting of the mock eviction notices unmistakably constitutes a violation of Emory’s Undergraduate Code of Conduct.


While it may be University protocol to include its logo on all approved flyers in the name of viewpoint neutrality, doing so sends a message - intentionally or not - that the University approves the messages contained therein. In addition to the policy violations noted above, these notices create a hostile environment for Israeli students at Emory, as well as the Jewish students on whose doors the notices were posted. In short, these notices indicate a reprehensible effort by those responsible to marginalize and stigmatize the Israeli and Jewish student community. By including the University’s logo on these notices, Emory placed its imprimatur on this bigoted messaging.


We urge your administration to investigate this matter, and if violations of student conduct rules or applicable laws are found, discipline responsible students and organizations accordingly. Furthermore, we recommend that you suspend and revise any policy of approving all flyers by including the University’s insignia. This step is essential in order to prevent dangerous lies from spreading with the appearance of Emory’s approval.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter further, and look forward to hearing from you within the next few weeks.






Roz Rothstein Carly Gammill CEO Interim Director

StandWithUs StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department

StandWithUs

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StandWithUs (SWU) is an international and non-partisan Israel education organization that inspires and educates people of all ages and backgrounds, challenges misinformation and fights antisemitism.

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