Hamas’ terrorist attacks on Israel and Israel’s ongoing assault on Gaza have exposed emotional wounds and exacerbated divisions across college campuses worldwide, including ours at Kenyon. Amid this tension, it is essential to maintain a cohesive community that stands firmly on our shared values. We must prioritize an environment where every member of the community, especially those from marginalized or directly affected backgrounds, feels valued and heard.
Hasty or aggressive responses to differing viewpoints don’t pave the way for resolution and serve only to widen the chasm of understanding. Instead, our focus should be on promoting constructive dialogue that springs from empathy and mutual respect. Such conversations are vital for unraveling our collective experiences and appreciating our distinct backgrounds. Mistakes in communication can occur regardless of one’s background; however, it’s essential to offer individuals the grace to express their views without fear.
Institutions of higher learning that champion diversity and inclusivity, such as Kenyon, bear the responsibility to protect the emotional and psychological well-being of all students. Many among us have personal, familial or ancestral ties to regions embroiled in conflict. For our fellow students, these are not just news headlines; they are deeply personal and emotionally charged narratives.
Faculty and community leaders at Kenyon have a crucial role in steering these discussions. Their responsibilities go beyond just teaching. They are here to foster understanding, offer support and help students tackle these tough conversations. Recent initiatives, like the Center for the Study of American Democracy’s videocast panel on the Israel-Hamas conflict, are commendable efforts to provide an informed perspective. We need more of such events that encourage informed dialogue and push for a deeper understanding of complex global issues among the student body.
Our approach to discussing the conflict must evolve. We need to reckon with the reality that two things can be true at once. The violent actions and bloodshed inflicted by Hamas are acts of terrorism and represent severe breaches of human rights and dignity. And it is equally true that the actions of the Israeli government, seen as contraventions of international law, have inflicted unimaginable suffering on millions of Palestinians. It is true that Hamas, a militant faction, does not represent all pro-Palestinian sentiments, many of whom primarily seek acknowledgement of Palestinian statehood and the termination of military occupation. It is also equally true that not every Jew supports the political stances and military endeavors of the Israeli administration. Violence, in all its forms, remains indefensible, and the sorrow from any life lost is profound. This belief is timeless and should be applied universally, encompassing both recent and historical events.
Amid this challenging period, our dedication must remain tied to the sanctity of every human life and the relentless pursuit of justice. It’s crucial that we foster dialogues grounded in these principles, focusing on both the unimaginable suffering currently faced in Gaza and ensuring the safety and dignity of both Jewish and Muslim lives. By establishing this foundation, we aim to move beyond the immediate divisions highlighted by the current crisis and work towards a more informed and understanding Kenyon community. As global events reverberate through our campus, it is crucial we remain committed to upholding the principles that bind us together, ensuring every member feels both recognized and respected.
Dylan Sibbitt ’26 is the opinions editor at the Collegian. He is a political science major from San Francisco. He can be reached at email@example.com.