ACPA – College Student Educators International strongly condemns the terrorist attacks and violence that have taken place over the last week in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank as well as the tragic deaths and injuries of over 5,000 innocent civilians.
As an Association, central tenets of our mission and values are the advocacy for equitable and inclusive environments and the open exchange of ideas in a context of mutual respect, reciprocity and care. We believe in the importance of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion. We must be cognizant of the overtones of religious and intersectional dynamics within the situation. We encourage our members to ensure campuses continue to be spaces where it is safe to express one’s opinion but also admonish those that call for violence and/or acts of hatred.
This current conflict is having a direct and immediate impact on our campus communities. Students, faculty, staff and alumni have relatives, friends and other connections to the region. Many are grieving the loss of loved ones, feel helpless by what is taking place, are concerned about their own safety and well-being, are angered by the ongoing cycle of violence, and/or are frustrated by the continued conflict and emotions are raw. Within higher education, we have a responsibility to show care and compassion for our communities in times of need including providing support services, counseling, creating and holding spaces for addressing grief and trauma.
We acutely understand that this is not a new conflict between Israel and Palestine. We encourage members to educate themselves about the history, context and challenges of this conflict. Notwithstanding the context, there is no justification for the horrific terrorist attacks nor the waging of war against unarmed civilians.
As professionals, we have to be role models by not making assumptions and categorizing a group of people due to their beliefs. On our campuses and institutions, we are witnessing hate, bigotry, antisemitism, and islamophobic behaviors/statements, etc. that are grounded in misinformation and bias. This runs counter to our Association values of cultural humility, inclusion, human dignity, and the Strategic Imperative for Racial Justice and Decolonization.
ACPA will continue to monitor how the conflict is affecting our campuses and provide resources through the weekly eCommunity and other means to support members under the evolving circumstances. Please reach out to ACPA on ways that we can support campuses and members during this time. We understand the emotional toll that this is taking and we encourage members to practice self-care as they manage their personal well-being.
As we support our communities that are grieving and mourning, we hold critical hope that we can reach a place where we can foster and initiate opportunities for dialogue, reflection and learning. We must show compassion for each other in the spirit of love, support and empathy.
Heather Shea, Ph.D., 2023-2024 ACPA President
Chris Moody, Ed.D., ACPA Executive Director