In the February 15th publication of the Equinox, an article was published about the Holocaust and Genocide Studies major. This article portrayed our major as nothing but barbed wire and unavailable staff. It provided false information on events happening at the college and the availability of degrees in this field at other schools. We would like to address these inaccuracies and provide a true portrayal of the Holocaust and Genocide major here at Keene State College.
As Holocaust and Genocide Studies majors, we found barbed wire as a representation of our major to be disrespectful. The use of barbed wire to portray our studies and epitomize the Holocaust was appalling, untasteful, and insensitive. As well, the article featured an image of the Yellow Star of David Badge, which was referred to as if it was any simple artifact. The badge itself holds much importance and should have been given the proper historical recognition. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum refers to the Yellow Star of David Badge as a way, “to stigmatize and humiliate Jews but also to segregate them and to watch and control their movements. The badge also facilitated deportation.” It is no ordinary artifact, it was donated to the Cohen Center by a Holocaust Survivor, which we are extremely grateful for.
The Holocaust and Genocide Studies staff are well known, published scholars of their fields. Dr. James Waller is much more than an author, he is a member of many organizations related to genocide prevention, including the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation. Dr. Hank Knight and Dr. Ashley Greene were not even mentioned in this article, which overlooked the amount of diverse fields our major offers. Michele Kuiawa, the Senior Program Support Assistant for the Cohen Center, was asked to comment on subjects that do not relate to her professional responsibilities.
Within the article only one Holocaust and Genocide student was cited, giving a narrow perspective of the program. Most members of the major would have been more than happy to contribute their opinions to the article if they were asked. There are various professions that one can pursue with a Holocaust and Genocide Studies degree. This major is made up of diverse students with different backgrounds and life experiences. We are human rights activists, genocide prevention lobbyist, supporters of the Jewish community, world travelers, and much more.
The inaccuracies in the article were too extreme for us not to address. The ‘informational event’ that is mentioned was not a public event nor a Holocaust and Genocide Studies department event. This was a teaching workshop for secondary school educators run by the Choices Program at Brown University. It was sponsored by the Cohen Center. This event was to help educators approach the teaching of genocide. There was no information about similar programs or graduate studies at this workshop. This workshop did not discuss the possibilities of post-graduation opportunities and only one Holocaust and Genocide Studies major attended this event because of her second major in Secondary Education.
It should be made clear that Keene State College is the only school that specifically offers an undergraduate degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. As students studying this, we take pride in this fact and want it to be recognized. The University of Florida offers a certificate in Holocaust studies. This only requires 18 credits compared to the 36 credits required at Keene State. At St. Cloud State University, Holocaust and Genocide studies is only offered as an individualized elective degree. At Clark University, there is only a concentration in Holocaust and Genocide Studies within a degree in History.
As a liberal arts college that offers a degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, we need to be more thoughtful in our decisions which is why we thought it was best to open a dialogue so that we can take the time to engage in conversation with others and listen to one another.
Nate Wolf, Laurel Farr,
Samantha Brault, and Alexis Sanborn