Anyone present on campus before this semester will recall the string of bias-related incidents that tarnished the campus mood last year.

Their frequency was disheartening and their abusive nature was alarming. The acts of homophobia were met, rightly, with assertive disapproval from both the university and the student body. The recent anti-Semitic episodes in New South and Darnall Halls, unfortunately, renewed this theme of narrow-minded prejudice. To say they must also be met with strong criticism may seem obvious, but it is so important that it warrants repeating.

What distinguishes the recent incidents from some previous assaults is their timing. The attacks corresponded to the Jewish High Holidays and occurred in two separate residence buildings within the same period. Both of those facts indicate either calculated deliberation and, by extension, a deep-seated anti-Semitic mindset, or gross immaturity on the part of the

perpetrators.

At Georgetown – a school that bills itself on religious pluralism – these attacks are noxious and degrading. The Jesuit mission has been to promote not only passive tolerance of other faiths, but an active effort to thoroughly understand them in a mature fashion. To this end, the university offers courses on many of the world’s major religions, including a theology course focused on the Jewish experience of the Holocaust. The university’s emphasis on exploring other religions as a part of a complete education is a powerful antidote to the anti-religious biases that spring from ignorance. But a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the Nazi graffiti is a symbol of hate that should not be suffered silently at Georgetown.

The question is clear: What can individuals do to combat that intolerance? In the short term, it is impossible to definitively prevent another attack. But students can, and should, make the conscious effort to learn. Do not brush off the opportunity to discover a new religion. Make room in your schedule for a class – whether it is in theology, history or literature – or an extracurricular that exposes you to a faith or culture different from yours. By grappling with foreign (and perhaps unsettling) worldviews, students can form part of the base that will erode misinformed hatred and fear in the future.

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