Syracuse University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) has awarded two Faculty Fellows grants for the 2023-2024 academic year. LaVerne Gray, assistant professor in the School of Information Studies, and Julia White, associate professor in the Department of Teaching and…
Statement from Provost Gretchen Ritter and Chief Student Experience Officer Allen Groves
A short time ago, our colleagues in the Department of Public Safety received a Stop Bias complaint from an individual reporting what appeared to be an anti-Semitic symbol drawn on a white board in Hinds Hall. An immediate investigation revealed that the symbol, known as the Buddhist swastika, was drawn on the white board by a professor to demonstrate how some symbols have been appropriated and can be perceived by different people in very different ways. Unfortunately, the instructor did not erase the white board before departing the classroom. Individuals later saw the symbol, interpreted what was drawn on the board as an anti-Semitic act, and rightly reported it through the Stop Bias portal.
The professor’s lesson was intended for one class, but our entire community can learn from experience and history. The Buddhist symbol in question was originally designed as the auspicious footprints of Buddha and long considered a sign of prosperity and good fortune. Today, as we reflect on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we know that the Nazi party’s use of the swastika is a lasting symbol of hate that has largely erased its original meaning. The professor’s intent was to emphasize the point that one symbol can be interpreted in multiple ways—good, bad or otherwise. At the same time, we all have unique lived experiences, which shape our reactions to events and symbols.
We are fortunate that as a learning community, we can find lessons in the most unexpected of places or situations. This moment is a reminder that everyone experiences our world and our community differently based on our backgrounds, cultures, lived experiences and perspectives. We continue to encourage the reporting of any incidents that are offensive or hurtful, allowing us to remain a place of learning, openness, and growth. As always, bias incidents can be reported via the Stop Bias portal and will be reported publicly on the Bias Incident report page.