President’s Office

President’s speeches, letters, and articles

Subject: Our Shared Community Values

November 13, 2023

Dear Reed College community,

On Thursday, Students for Justice in Palestine held a rally on the Reed campus. The rally began with a gathering on campus and then led many participants to join a protest at the World Trade Center in downtown Portland. Media has reported, and we have confirmed, that four Reed students were arrested during the protest downtown for illegal entry, vandalization of property, and other reported violations.

Protesters at the rally on campus chanted certain slogans that many perceive as calls to violence. It is important to recognize the impact of such language. Reed College does not tolerate speech that advocates for violence. We are dedicated to creating a campus environment where all of our students feel welcome and safe. The rally was held on the 85th anniversary of Kristallnacht, a night of pogroms that targeted Jews and served as a precursor to the Holocaust. Known or unknown, this timing is a threatening provocation hearkening back to the murder of Jewish people.

While the intent of those in attendance may not have been to advocate for violence, some in our community experienced it as such, and it is important we recognize impact when harm is caused. We take seriously the fears that members of our community felt after hearing the language and seeing the signage at the gathering.

The college condemns hate speech and the actions of individuals who vandalized the World Trade Center in Portland. Those of us who live in the city recognize that we are working hard to create and sustain a vibrant, safe, and inclusive community amidst a set of well-publicized challenges.

Our mission includes the necessity to understand multiple perspectives and to seek out different views. In the midst of the urgent passions surrounding the conflict in Gaza and Israel, we are struggling to find understanding. It is vital that we remember our shared purpose at Reed even as we work for the change we value in the world. As a college, we reject antisemitism and Islamophobia both on campus and in the world more broadly.

The Office for Institutional Diversity receives and responds to all reported incidents that may involve bias, discrimination, or harassment, understanding that each unique circumstance requires individualized attention and tailored action. Please report any incidents of harassment, violence, and/or discrimination by clicking here.

We can have differences of opinion, strongly held beliefs, and passionate political stances, but we cannot cross into the realm of advocating for violence. My fervent hope is—and our educational mission demands—that we continue to find ways to talk across difference by approaching each other with empathy, the desire to understand rather than convince, and a mutual respect for our shared humanity.



Audrey Bilger
Reed College