Responding to Extremism on Campus
Administrators, faculty, staff and students have an important
responsibility to establish and maintain a tone of civility on
campus by demanding and enforcing a policy of zero tolerance toward
all forms of bigotry. If they send mixed or muddled messages concerning
anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred, some will see this as
tacit approval and even as license to engage in such behavior.
The following recommendations are offered with the understanding
that each case is different and needs to be handled with sensitivity
and consideration for the special circumstances involved. ADL
staff are available to work with students, faculty, staff and
administrators on campuses where acts of hate have occurred or
- Extremist Speakers on Campus
- Holocaust-Denial Advertisements
- Vandalism, Graffiti, Intimidation and Harassment
- Making the Campus a Better Place
Extremist Speakers on Campus
- All members of the campus community should speak out vigorously
and unambiguously publicly opposing the choice of an extremist
speaker. Criticism is not the equivalent of censorship, but is
a basic affirmation of freedom of speech and opinion.
- University presidents, faculty senates and student government
bodies should be encouraged to make a strong public statement
denouncing the message of extremist speakers as antithetical to
the goals and identity of the institution. Such statements are
consistent with principles of academic freedom and are a necessary
step in distancing the university from expressions of bigotry.
- University officials and student governments should be encouraged
to help reduce the stress brought about by the appearance of an
extremist speaker through sponsoring alternative forums, structured
dialogue, prejudice-reduction training, educational programming
and other appropriate interventions.
- Ensure that only duly constituted and recognized groups within
the university community may institute a request for a speaker
who is to be paid from student or university funds.
- Work to see that the speech is held in a reasonably secure
location. Admission might be limited in most cases to those with
valid university ID cards. Speakers should be required to allow
questioning in a calm, non-intimidating atmosphere.
- Campus and local officials should insure that security for
the event is entirely under their control. Speakers should not
be allowed to place their own private security force inside or
outside the auditorium.
- If there is a simultaneous counterdemonstration, it should
be held in a separate location from the speech to reduce the risk
of physical confrontation.
- It is important to be in touch with campus newspaper editors
to educate them about the nature of Holocaust denial on a continuing
basis. Campus newspaper staffs change from year to year. Outreach
is needed well before any Holocaust-denial advertisements are
received. Attempted intervention after the fact may be too late.
- Educate campus editors on the background and agenda of Holocaust
deniers such as Bradley Smith, David Irving and Ernst Zundel.
Emphasize that campus newspapers are under no legal or moral obligation
to accept unsolicited advertising containing false, misleading
and defamatory premises. Commercial newspapers generally do not
accept such advertising. Despite the claims of Holocaust deniers,
this is not a legitimate First Amendment issue.
- Counter-ads and letters to the editor should expose Holocaust
deniers as representatives of the larger hate movement and show
how their message, though cleverly packaged, is really one of
semicamouflaged anti-Semitism. Responding to the deniers by attempting
to prove the historicity of the Holocaust plays into the hands
of the deniers, by giving the impression of an ongoing debate
on the subject.
- Appropriate leaders of the academy, such as the university
president and the chairman/members of the History Department should
be encouraged to take a public stand against the use of the campus
newspaper to spread Holocaust denial propaganda.
Vandalism, Graffiti, Intimidation and Harassment
- Universities must establish legally valid policies on student,
faculty and staff conduct that are clear and unambiguous. Such
policies should be widely published in student and staff handbooks
and other appropriate places, making it clear that vandalism,
racist graffiti, intimidation and harassment have no place on
campus and will not be tolerated. Violators will be punished.
- Enforcement of such policies must be strict and prompt. Within
appropriate forms of due process, violators must be punished and
must be publicly decried.
- Racist and bigoted graffiti should be promptly removed. Such
graffiti should be seen as a special human relations problem distinct
from standard maintenance procedures and pre-set maintenance schedules.
- Posters containing bigoted messages should likewise be considered
unauthorized and promptly removed by university officials.
Making the Campus a Better Place
- Administrators, student leaders and faculty have an ongoing
responsibility to speak out on matters that could create or affect
tensions on campus. This should be done during pre-crisis as well
as crisis situations.
- Faculty and administrations must establish high-priority long-term
human relations and prejudice-reduction programming within the
curriculum (where appropriate), in the orientation process, through
student services and in university publications.
- Students, faculty and administrators should be equally concerned
and respond equally to instances of bias directed at any group
on campus. Distinctions as to the seriousness of the incident
and the importance of a response must not be based upon the group
identity of the victims.
- Fraternities and sororities should be held responsible for
acts of bigotry committed by their members as part of fraternal
and interfraternal events.
- Jewish student groups should actively seek productive ongoing
coalitions with other groups of students. Responses to anti-Semitic
events (e.g., extremist speakers, Holocaust-denial ads, etc.)
should actively engage non-Jewish members of these coalitions
in joint activities. Similarly, Jewish students should respond
on behalf of their coalition partners when they are subject to
various forms of assault.
- Encourage alumni, parents and members of the surrounding community
to speak out on issues of bigotry on campus. Their voices can
have a major positive impact on the decisions of university officials.
Source: Schooled in Hate: Anti-Semitism On Campus, ADL,
1997: Anti-Defamation League (ADL)