To the Keene Campus and Community,
In response to recent displays of intolerance, the students of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Major strongly urge that these actions and hate speech not be taken lightly. The nature of our studies demonstrates that such small acts can quickly lead to much larger ones with unnerving implications. In response to recent nationwide acts of antisemitism and discriminatory rhetoric, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum released the following statement: “The Holocaust did not begin with killing; it began with words.” Our professors have instilled this truth in us; time and time again hate speech and othering are followed by brutality. As bearers of this history, it is our responsibility as students in this major to not be bystanders. Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and human rights advocate Elie Wiesel once said, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
On Monday, December 12th at 6:30pm in the Mabel Brown Room of the L.P. Young Student Center, the Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Club invites the campus and community to join in a student led panel which seeks to provide an opportunity to have these difficult discussions.
As students, faculty, and staff at Keene State College, our mission statement ties us to the values of social justice, civility, and respect. Campus wide, we have the responsibility to stand up against such acts of hatred and to promote community, tolerance, and inclusiveness. We have taken steps towards opening dialogue on these difficult topics and we ask that other students, organizations, and departments join us in making Keene State College a community of upstanders. To do this, we must face these recent acts publicly, vigorously, and respectfully. The panel discussion will provide an opportunity for open and honest communication to take place in a civil and respectful environment.
We recognize that acts of intolerance such as these do not just affect Keene State College, but the city of Keene as a whole. For this reason, we call upon the Keene community to acknowledge hate speech and acts of discrimination in the same manner. We invite you to join our discussion on December 12th as we recognize the strength that comes from collaboration.
For those who have responded to this issue, we encourage you to continue the work you are engaging in. And for those who have been bystanders, the choice to take action is now. We thank the Keene community for their continual support of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Department, and hope you embark on this journey with us.
Galen Gammino and Kathleen Dougherty
On Behalf of Students of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Major