Open letter from Women’s Studies faculty

In recent weeks, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has made a number of incendiary, outrageous, and false comments about Islam and Muslims both nationally and globally, going so far as to call for a ban on all travel by Muslims to the United States.  Such racist and xenophobic comments harm individuals and communities, both at Vassar and beyond. As a program that seeks to uncover the matrices of oppression and to uphold the values of social justice, we, the undersigned members of Women’s Studies, would like to affirm that religious prejudice has no place in our community.  We offer our support to Muslim students, faculty, and staff who are undoubtedly affected by the suspicion and hostility being expressed in the wake of Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric. We call upon everyone at Vassar to speak out against Islamophobia in all its manifestations.


Barbara Olsen

Mita Choudhury

Miriam Cohen

Leslie Dunn

Jean Kane

Susan Hiner

Denise Walen

Eva Woods

Nancy Pokrywka

G. Blumenfeld

Annie Menzel

Lydia Murdoch

Rebecca Edwards

Susan Zlotnick

Janet Gray

Jeff Schneider

Karen Robertson

Mary Shanley

Maria Hantzopoulos

Kathleen Hart

Kathryn Libin

Silke  vonder Emde

Pei Pei Qiu

Abigail Baird

Dara Greenwood

Jill Schneiderman

Seungsook Moon

Colleen Cohen

Diane Harriford

Vinay Swamy

Rose Murachick

Elias Krell

Paulina Bren

Lisa Brawley


  1. Thank you for affirming that religious prejudice has no place in the women’s studies community. Please now show that your concern extends also to those of the Jewish faith by explicitly rejecting the recent resolution of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) to boycott Israel. This resolution is reprehensible on so many levels, including NWSA’s failure to consult with the members of its Jewish Caucus before presenting the resolution, its refusal to present views opposing BDS, and its singling out for opprobrium the only nation in the region where women have full equality. Janet Freedman, former chair of the NWSA’s Jewish Caucus, in explaining all that is wrong with this resolution, notes that: “While professing the challenging of interlacing systems of oppression that must be addressed together, anti-Semitism is frequently unseen or excluded. The Jewish invisibility and anti-Semitism within NWSA that led to the formation of a Jewish Caucus in the 1980s continues to exist.” I look forward to Vassar’s Women Studies faculty speaking out against an anti-Semitic resolution passed by an organization to which, undoubtedly, many of them belong.

  2. No one can argue with the statements in your letter concerning Donald Trump’s displays of prejudice against Islam and Muslims. If you substitute the word “Jewish” every time the term “Muslim” appears in your letter, you will find “incendiary, outrageous and false comments” about Jews being made much closer to home. Last Wednesday, Professor Puar gave a lecture at Vassar in which she expressed the modern day version of the ancient blood libel against Jews. She intimated, without even a pretense of a factual basis, that Israel exploits Palestinian bodies for research, conducts field assassinations of young male Palestinians and “manifests an implicit claim to the right to maim and debilitate Palestinian bodies.” Puar also gave her unqualified support to the use of violence against Israeli civilians to advance the Palestinian cause.
    I urge you to express the same outrage over Puar’s inflammatory, baseless claims as you did Donald Trump’s bigoted statements about Muslims.

    Megan Tallmer
    Class of 1973

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