Towson freshman Julie Steinhorn, 18, reacts to possible hate crime against two members of a Jewish fraternity near the campus. (Libby Soloman/Baltimore Sun Media Group video)
Early last Sunday morning, there was an off-campus altercation between Towson University students that involved an assault and included anti-Semitic words and actions that are truly reprehensible. We are appalled at this inexcusable incident that does not reflect the values of Towson University or its community. We do not believe a pattern of hate exists at TU. Rather, this altercation represents a deplorable but isolated incident ("'It hits a little close to home': Towson U students react to news of alleged anti-Semitic hate crime," May 1).
TU has a proud history of partnership with the Jewish community. The university is the home of the Baltimore Hebrew Institute (formerly Baltimore Hebrew University), which is dedicated to the education and scholarship of Jewish studies. In TU's Cook Library, visitors can access one of the largest academic collections of Jewish Studies in the mid-Atlantic region. And Towson University has received national recognition as an institution that is welcoming of Jewish students: the Algemeiner ranked TU the 13th best campus for Jewish students in North America; Hillel International named TU the 35th best public university by Jewish population in the country; and Forward College Guide ranked TU one of the top 100 schools in the nation for Jewish students, noting a thriving community that continues to grow.
While it is disturbing that this type of anti-Semitism could occur at a university that supports diversity, inclusion and cultural competency as priorities at the highest levels of its administration, it is in no way indicative of a lack of effort to create a welcoming environment at Towson University. TU has worked relentlessly to achieve a more diverse and inclusive campus that supports every member to thrive, regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or levels of ableness.
It is in this spirit of diversity and unity that we call for our respective communities to come together in the wake of last weekend's incident. As the university completes a full and ongoing investigation, we encourage you to unite in support of our Jewish community. The Towson University administration is working with TU Hillel to address student concerns, as well as partnering with the Baltimore Jewish Council and The Associated to provide additional resources, including security consultations, to those affected. Additional support is available at TU's Counseling Center.
Towson University is a beacon of opportunity for our diverse students and partners throughout the region, including our Jewish community. This incident does not change that. It only strengthens our resolve to continue our important diversity work.
Howard Libit and Kim Schatzel
The writers are, respectively, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council and president of Towson University.