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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Babson apologizes to Brandeis for 35-year-old slurs

Published: August 23, 2013
Section: News

As tensions rose during a 1978 soccer match against the predominantly Jewish Brandeis University team, members of the Babson College team hurled anti-Semitic words against their opponents, shouting “Holocaust” while wearing swastikas emblazoned on their uniforms. According to the Anti-Defamation League, an organization dedicated to combatting anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, students hung signs spelling “KTJ”, short for “Kill the Jews,” while a poster displaying the message “Happy Holocaust” was allegedly discovered in the gymnasium the day following the match.

On June 26, 35 years after the offensive incident, Babson president Len Schlesinger issued a public apology at the New England Headquarters for the Anti-Defamation League, addressing the shocking anti-Semitic actions of several students during the 1978 match.

Babson’s response at the time of the incident neglected to include a formal or public apology to the Brandeis community. According to the Boston Globe, Schlesinger commented during a press conference at the Anti-Defamation League center. “Public acts require public apologies, and we are now in the business of being very clear, that I actually don’t believe there is any time duration that is too long to address that wrong,” he said.

In addition to the public apology, President Len Schlesinger sent a letter to President Fred Lawrence on June 11. Lawrence accepted the apology on behalf of the Brandeis community, According to Ellen de Graffenreid, senior vice president for Communications at Brandeis University, he “praised Babson’s new partnership with the Anti-Defamation League of New England to bring the ADL’s Campus of Difference program to Babson College.”

Through participation in the Campus of Difference Program, campus leaders and students will explore the impact of stereotypes and seek to implement policies to combat racism, bias and hate. Babson has announced that in collaboration with the ADL it will establish an anti-bias training program for 500 first year students this fall.

According to the ADL press release, ADL New England Regional Director Robert Trestan, stated that “acknowledging the past provides the entry point to institutionalize lasting change. We are grateful to Babson for recognizing that anti-bias and diversity training play a critical role in sustaining an inclusive and respectful college campus environment.”