Message on TCU Senate Resolutions

March 4, 2024

Dear Tufts students, faculty, and staff:

As you may know, the Tufts Community Union Senate earlier this morning passed three resolutions, initially proposed by the Coalition for Palestinian Liberation, related to the Israel-Hamas war. We understand that TCU Senate bylaws required consideration of and a vote upon these resolutions. The deliberations that lasted well into the early morning hours show how our campus reflects the deep division in society on these issues. However, we’re disappointed that a majority voted to pass three of the four resolutions. To be clear: as we have done in the past, we reject the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement, we wholeheartedly support academic freedom and all our academic and exchange programs, and we will continue to work with all companies that we engage with and do business with now.

These resolutions, which mirror others being promoted by student groups at universities and colleges nationwide, do not promote nuanced understanding through broader dialogue. The immense loss of life in Gaza is tragic. We mourn with the Palestinians, but we also feel for the Israelis grieving over those they have lost and share their desire for the safe return of the hostages. It is possible to hold both of these views simultaneously. It is also possible for us to be supportive of both the right of Israel to exist and for the self-determination rights of the Palestinian people. However, these resolutions do not allow for these views to coexist and, as a result, force our community into opposing groups rather than uniting us to build from areas of agreement.

It is our responsibility as an institution of higher learning to educate our students on the complex history of the region and to provide them with the tools to have nuanced conversations rather than rely on slogans, incomplete narratives, or simple yes/no votes. This is what we have been doing over the past months and what we will continue to do through the Tufts Talks Openly initiative, the multi-university Dialogue and Action in the Age of Divides events, the Scholars at Risk program, and the Tufts Global Month events, which this year focuses on working together in times of crisis. We also have been pleased to see additional programming from all corners of our university and representing diverse perspectives, including Hillel's Critical Conversations series and student-led teach-ins on a wide range of topics. Part of this education process is also for those of us in leadership to understand the views of our community. We have already met with interested student groups several times to better understand their perspectives and will continue to engage with our students in various ways moving forward.

We are aware that these issues can be challenging and surface pain for so many in our community. To help address this, we have been increasing our training on stopping antisemitism; Islamophobia; and anti- Arab, anti-Israeli, and anti-Palestinian bias; and we continue to encourage all community members to treat each other with respect and empathy. This includes respecting the privacy and safety of members of the TCU Senate, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with their individual perspectives. To that end, though much of the debate at the TCU meeting was civil and respectful, we have received reports of some extremely disturbing antisemitic words and conduct directed to those speaking against the resolutions. In addition, we have learned of Islamophobic actions directed toward supporters of the resolutions. Let us be entirely clear: antisemitic and Islamophobic words and actions are entirely unacceptable and should be met with condemnation from the entire community, regardless of your perspective on the resolutions. We are actively investigating these accusations thoroughly and will hold accountable any student found to have engaged in these behaviors.

As we have said previously, Tufts will impact world events by producing relevant research, informed citizens, and responsible leaders. We will not be able to achieve this work if we turn against each other. We are committed to this effort and hope you will join us in it. 

Sunil Kumar

Caroline Attardo Genco,
Provost and Senior Vice President

Michael W. Howard
Executive Vice President

James M. Glaser
Dean, School of Arts and Sciences

Kyongbum Lee
Dean, School of Engineering