Dear President Jonathan Holloway, Chancellor Nancy Cantor, Senior Vice President Anna Branch, and Student Body President Nicholas Labelle,
We hope you are well and staying safe during these times of COVID-19. Hindu on Campus is a newly formed student-led initiative that seeks to create a safe space for Hindu students on college campuses. In the past, we have raised awareness on Hindu religious symbols and practices. We also provide an anonymous platform for Hindu students to submit testimonials about issues they face in an effort to educate other communities about Hinduism. We were contacted by numerous anonymous (verified) Hindu students at Rutgers University who expressed serious concerns over Professor Audrey Truschke’s conduct, especially fearing their safety on campus.
We wish to share our open letter regarding our concerns and demands. You can find the letter here. This open letter was followed by a petition, which has more than 5,145 signatures (Growing by the minute, please refer to this Twitter thread for updates) from students, parents, New Jersey residents, faculty, and others. Due to the privacy wishes and safety of the students, we will not be able to disclose the names of these individuals publicly. However, we have all of these names in our petition and would be happy to share privately. As these students have real concerns over privacy, our aim is to protect that first and foremost. We are also cc’ing numerous other student organizations who have shared our petition on social media, also voicing similar concerns.
With this in mind, we would like to also inform you of the most recent developments to Professor Truschke’s behavior since we launched this petition.
On March 6, Professor Truschke tweeted “A lot of hate right now. Fuelled by my talk on Hindutva yesterday, a largely recycled petition, and/or randomness. The hate is unacceptable.” We would like to make it very clear that nowhere in our campaign, we enabled hate against Professor Truschke (We maintain strict policies on reporting individuals who have made threats) or reference her talk. In fact, she blocked our handle on March 4 despite no engagement.
Although Professor Truschke blocked our handle, she tweeted rebuttals to our handle throughout the day on March 6. We uploaded an entire thread of information from our open letter on March 6, 1:54pm. Professor Truschke tweeted her own thread on the same day at 2:24pm, attempting to respond to each of our claims. In an attempt to do so, she shared a racially prejudiced cartoon towards Hindus, reiterating her inherently bigoted stance that sacred Hindu texts condone modern-day sexual violence.
Again, at 3:21pm on March 6, Professor Truschke continued to stalk our handle despite no prior interaction and alleged that her tweets were “for everybody else who might want to be informed about a handle that embraces misinformation in pursuit of a malicious agenda.”
If this is the treatment of online Hindu student activists who have dissenting views — how would she treat her own students who have the right to disagree? As she has blocked us, we have strong reason to believe that Professor Truschke is not open to listening to the concerns of Hindu students and has prioritized her career over the safety and well-being of students.
As always, we welcome well-informed, structured, and respectful scholarly debate. What we do not welcome are Twitter stalking, harassment, and racially motivated online echo chamber rants.
Instead of taking our concerns seriously, Professor Truschke has chosen to behave as — what we would call in the mainstream — a “Twitter troll” and instead, she gaslights those who disagree with her tactics and views. There has been no attempt to address the racism that more than 5,145 students have signed on to publicly voice their concerns.
It should be a given that, at a prestigious university like Rutgers, both students and faculty would resort to the highest levels of respect and moral conduct. Throughout the campaign, we have maintained respect even though we were disrespected on numerous occasions. All claims that we make have cited Professor Truschke’s own words. We are open to disagreement but we are not open to racism. We have maintained pluralism, tolerance, and mutual respect even though Professor Truschke has not done so for the Hindu community, or afforded us with the same respect just because we come from a different faith.
Several Hindu high school students, having run into these threads, have privately expressed to us that they no longer wish to commit to a University like Rutgers, where minorities are treated this way. We are happy to share this information with you privately too.
All of these incidents go to show a pattern of behavior that exhibits deep-rooted xenophobia, hatred, and bigotry. Until all communities are included at Rutgers, we cannot move forward to make sustainable progress.
We urge you to take the concerns of the Hindu community seriously and look forward to hearing your response. Thank you very much for your time.
Hindu on Campus Team