There are days when we are reminded of just how important it is to treat one another with respect and dignity. At our post from the UW Hillel, we are dismayed by the actions of members of the AEPi fraternity on campus. Let us hope that we are all moved to treat people with more respect; be it our fellow students, or professionals in the Madison community. However, the hateful comments posted on The Badger Herald website in response to the mistakes of AEPi and the comments in the letter responding to the dean of students cannot be ignored. References to the Holocaust, to the final solution and to ovens are dangerous and cannot be tolerated. We must not forget that in very recent history this hateful language was accompanied by the murder of Jews, gays, lesbians, the Roman people and other minorities throughout Europe — the genocide of nearly 10 million people. Hateful language was tolerated by many bystanders who stood idle, either too timid, lazy, or full of disbelief to act.
At Hillel, we are often called upon to help students in times of difficulty — be that a death of a loved one, a problem in a classroom or with a roommate or when religious practice and academic schedules conflict. We also are a point of contact to report hate speech or anti-Semitism on campus. The events of this past week as chronicled in The Badger Herald are no exception.
If we have learned anything in this past 70 years, let it be that we cannot stand by and say, “It is only words.” Hateful language should not be tolerated on this campus in any forum. We here at Hillel would be the first to argue for the protection of free speech.
We have read the recent editorial in The Badger Herald and ask that they continue their policy review of online postings and that they move swiftly to ensure the events of the past few days do not continue. We here at the UW Hillel see ourselves as a place on campus that welcomes debate, even conflict of opinions or divergent views in the Jewish community and in the wider campus community. We are a place of discourse, as is the larger UW campus community, even when people disagree — and even when it is painful. Yet we must not tolerate hateful speech or references to the murder of any group on campus. These are serious issues with real life implications. Such actions, all be it by a few, do not reflect well on our campus and community. We hope that as a community we will swiftly create a more a respectful, safe and responsible community for all UW students.
UW Hillel Foundation