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A message from Chancellor Haefner on the conflict in the Middle East

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Jeremy Haefner

Letter  •

Dear DU community members, 

Since the first moment of the horrific terrorist attack by Hamas in Israel, witnessing the loss of life in Israel and Gaza has been gut-wrenching. In the days since, I have been engaged in thoughtful conversations in which community members offered their insights and expertise on these complex and deeply painful events. From this discourse, it is clear to me that the University of Denver is a caring community that condemns terrorism and violence and prays for peace.  

Our most immediate focus has been on the safety and well-being of students, faculty, and staff. We assisted DU community members who needed to leave Israel and are glad they are safe and reunited with loved ones. Student Affairs and Inclusive Excellence connected directly with those quickly identified as being personally impacted by the devastation, offering support and additional protections, including proactive assistance from Campus Safety. We also shared other supportive resources with the entire DU community.  

All that said, in truth, institutions have struggled to communicate and react in the wake of such shocking violence. But what is clear is that the best approach makes sure that our actions are aligned with our principles: 

We reject hate and prioritize our community’s safety. 

In this, we are unequivocal: we do not tolerate antisemitism, Islamophobia, or any form of hate. Every DU community member deserves to feel safe and welcome. 

We are steadfast in our commitment to freedom of expression and civil discourse.  

We are an institution of higher learning dedicated to open inquiry and the exchange of ideas. 

The University as an Institution must remain neutral on geopolitical issues. 

The institution—composed of individuals from many backgrounds and perspectives—does not make formal statements in support or dissent on geopolitical issues because they can unintentionally stifle the free expression of our community members.  

As we watch this conflict—thousands of miles away, but, for so many, no less terrible or personal—let the DU community aspire to our best and highest selves. I know we will embody our values, even as we feel deep sadness, anger, and even powerlessness.  

Learn and Process 

On Thursday, October 19 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., the entire DU community is invited to come together for a Community + Values Community Talk featuring DU community members from a broad range of backgrounds relevant to this moment. Together, we will learn and process with one another in this reflective, educational and supportive space. Register and get details here.  

Hear From Experts 

On Wednesday, October 18 at 5 p.m., experts in the Korbel School of International Studies are hosting a panel. Join virtually to learn the history and complexities leading to this conflict. 

Our DU Newsroom also featured Micheline Ishay, the director of DU’s Center for Middle East Studies, in a recent article discussing the conflict and its sensitive and highly complex history. We encourage you to read this article for yourself and attend one or both thought-provoking virtual panels. 

Lean on Support 

Last week, Provost Clark shared resources for support. Please, use these resources should you need them.  

This institution, this community, is a place where we come to live, learn, work, contribute, and grow. We do this alongside community members from all backgrounds and walks of life—and we are made better for it. It affords us powerful opportunities to be our best selves. I am proud of the DU community for this, and for how we continue to weather this historic and traumatic time.  

We hope and pray for peace. 



Jeremy Haefner