DePauw faculty letter calls for university to speak out against assault on Palestine

The following letter was forwarded to the Indianapolis Liberator, on December 5, 2023.


Dear friends and colleagues,

Today, as we end (with a brief and fragile truce) the seventh week of Israel’s non-stop bombardment of the Palestinian people (almost half of whom are children) —seven weeks that have been filled with unimaginable horror, loss, and suffering—we invite you to join us in breaking our collective silence and speaking out, in no uncertain terms, against the ongoing siege.

We have, as a university community, largely been holding silence. There are likely many reasons for that silence—mourning, fear, confusion, respect for the dead, trying to hold space—but, whatever our reasons, we (particularly those of us on the faculty who are afforded the protections of tenure and have a responsibility to educate) cannot continue to stand silently by.

While we stay silent, our President’s statements are left to speak for us. These statements name the violence of Hamas, but are silent on the violence of the Israeli State against the Palestinian people. They call for empathy, but do not call for a ceasefire. They name antisemitism, but do not name historic and contemporary anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim violence, hate, and repression. In not naming these actions, or the ongoing occupation and brutality that Palestinians have faced for at least the past 75 years, we enable systemic violence and contribute to the erasure of a people.

Moreover, our silence as faculty is undermining many of our students’ voices and discouraging them from mourning and sharing their fears (not just regarding Palestine but anything that is remotely political). This silencing leaves students more vulnerable, emotionally and physically. 

We are a university with a commitment to freedom of expression. We as faculty have been urged over and over again to examine “both sides” of issues, to make room for all voices, to speak our values. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves and our students (indeed we were called on to do so by our President’s first letter) and it is our responsibility to speak back against ahistorical understandings of what is happening right now and highlight voices that have been pushed to the margins.

We can mourn for, be devastated by, and honor the loss of Jewish life and the historical and contemporary horrors suffered by Jewish people while critiquing Israeli State policy and practice. We can speak out against the attacks on Israeli civilians on October 7, while also naming the long histories of attacks on Palestinian civilians that preceded this day and are continuing even now.

We encourage our community to speak up in order that our collective silence not express de-facto institutional consent to ongoing human rights violations funded substantively by American tax dollars. Israel and Palestine are grossly disproportionate in terms of resources, military strength, and impact of attacks. The United Nations has already warned the world that Palestinians are “at grave risk of genocide.” Our silence in the face of violence that includes the bombing of hospitals, schools, and refugee camps dehumanizes Palestinians and legitimizes these abuses of basic human rights and international law.

Please join us in calling on our community and our leadership to condemn and call for a permanent halt to Israel’s horrific assault on Gaza. We also invite you to find ways to stand in solidarity with Palestinians: we can offer our time, energy, and money. We can take the time to educate ourselves about the long history of Israeli State violence and struggle for Palestinian liberation, as well as the complex histories of the various national, ethnic, and religious identities involved in this situation, which cannot be reduced to mutually exclusive binaries.

As one step towards deeper understanding, please join us for a screening of The War Around Us, a film directed by Abdallah Omeish about two international journalists’ accounts of the three-week 2008-2009 Israeli assault on Gaza. 

The screening will be held in Peeler Auditorium on Thursday, November 30th at 4:15 p.m. followed by a facilitated discussion.  


  • Rebecca Alexander, Associate Professor and Chair, Education Studies
  • Farah Ali, Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies
  • Manal Shalaby, Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature
  • Derek R. Ford, Associate Professor of Education Studies
  • Nidhal Newash, Clinical Counselor, Counseling Services
  • Angela Castañeda, Professor of Anthropology and Coordinator of Latin American and Caribbean Studies
  • Nahyan Fancy, Professor of Middle East/Comparative History, History
  • Sahar D. Sattarzadeh, Assistant Professor of Education Studies
  • Andrea Sununu, Professor of English
  • Rich Cameron, Associate Professor of Philosophy
  • Anonymous Untenured Faculty Member
  • Professor Alicia Suarez, Department of Sociology and Anthropology
  • Leigh-Anne K. Goins, Associate Professor, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 
  • Rachel Goldberg, Associate Professor, Peace and Conflict Studies
  • Glen David Kuecker, Professor, Peace and Conflict Studies
  • Scott Spiegelberg, University Registrar and Associate Professor of Music
  • Caitlin Howlett, (Non-TT) Assistant Professor of Education Studies
  • Ivelisse Rodriguez, Assistant Professor, English
  • Chloe O’Sullivan, Assistant Director of student employment, Hubbard Center
  • CJ Gomolka, Associate Professor of Global French Studies 
  • Lynn Ishikawa, (Non-TT) Associate Professor of English and Director, English for Academic Purposes, Writing Center, and Writing Program
  • Karin Wimbley, Associate Professor of English
  • Paul Johnson, Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies
  • Jeanette K. Pope, Professor of Geosciences and Director of the Ullem Campus Farm and Center for Sustainability
  • Smita A. Rahman, Professor of Political Science
  • Mamunur Rashid, Professor, Department of Mathematical Sciences
  • Naima Shifa, Professor of Mathematical Sciences
  • Douglas Harms, Emeritus Professor of Computer Science
  • Kevin Howley, Professor of Media Studies
  • Christy Holmes, Associate Professor, WGSS
  • Jordan Sjol, Assistant Professor, Film and Media Arts

The above signatures represent faculty who have signed on as of December 5, 2023. The letter is still open for signatures.