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NASPA Statement on the Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting

Policy and Advocacy Mid-Level
October 29, 2018

The NASPA community expresses our sorrow to those who lost loved ones and are grieving the horrific antisemitic attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. The synagogue is located in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood with Chatham University and Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of Pittsburgh is just steps away. Students at these and many other colleges and universities in Pittsburgh frequent this synagogue and consider it a place where they share in a faith-based community of friendship, love, hospitality, and support. We also send our support to those first responders who both sustained injuries and are dealing with the aftermath of this hate crime.

The shooting at the synagogue has been recognized by the Anti-Defamation League as the deadliest assault on the Jewish community in the history of the United States. It is a symptom of larger issues of white supremacy and bigotry that plague our society and fits into a pattern of increased bias- and hate-motivated violence. NASPA will continue to speak out and act on these issues because they affect all of us. We must identify and work against all forms of hate and oppression.

As student affairs educators dedicated to the development of the whole person, well-being through spiritual, religious, and secular exploration should be a part of our leadership to build healthy, welcoming, and safe places for the diverse communities that comprise our institutions. NASPA’s Spirituality and Religion in Higher Education Knowledge Community offers resources and the opportunity to connect with others committed to this critical work.

Editor’s Note: The original version of this statement used the term “anti-Semitic.” However, the root word Semite is defined as a member of a modern people speaking a Semitic language, e.g., including Arabs and Assyrians, which grammatically gives the false impression that anti-Semitism is hatred directed against all Semites. After further consideration, we have edited the piece to use the term antisemitism, without a hyphen and no capitalization, to more specifically name the hatred against Jewish people. Please see this resource from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance for additional information.