In a historic move, the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) unanimously passed a resolution to adopt a working definition of Hinduphobia. This is the first time that a US university has institutionally recognised Hinduphobia through its student assembly.
On April 24, the working definition of Hinduphobia was developed at the ‘Understanding Hinduphobia’ Conference. Rutgers HSC emphasised that it was important to protect the interests of the Hindu students on the campus of Rutgers University especially after the recent increase of instances of Hinduphobia on campus.
The accepted definition of Hinduphobia goes as, “a set of antagonistic, destructive, and derogatory attitudes and behaviours towards Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism) and Hindus that may manifest as fear or hatred.”
Rutgers HSC informed that RUSA has not only recognised the working definition of Hinduphobia but also the changes made to the definition within 14 days of the conclusion of ‘Understanding Hinduphobia Conference.’ The development comes as a major victory for the Hindu students on the Rutgers University campus, who have been fighting the faculty and administration to recognise the perils of Hinduphobia.
Need for the Working Definition of Hinduphobia
OpIndia has reported on the series of events that necessitated the passing of the resolution on Hinduphobia. The OpIndia report shows how despite the petition by a group of students asking Rutgers-Newark University to take strong action against controversial ‘historian’ and Professor Audrey Truschke for demonising Hinduism, neither the University or the faculty took any steps to address their concerns.
Instead, the Rutgers -Newark University came out in defence of Audrey Truschke saying that it “emphatically supports Professor Truschke’s academic freedom in pursuing her scholarship, abhors the vile messages and threats being directed at her, and calls for an immediate end to them”.
On March 17, the faculty members of Rutgers University came out in support of Truschke. In a letter they wrote, “We insist that a critical examination of Hindutva, a political ideology, is not the same thing as Hinduphobia,” the statement read.
Further, Senior Vice President of ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ at Rutgers University blocked the Twitter handle of ‘Hindus on Campus’ which pointed him to the testimonials of verified current and prospective Hindu students. With lack of support from the University and the faculty, the students were forced to adopt a resolution defining Hinduphobia.
Many non-Hindu students too have spoken in favor of the resolution. Armenian Alex endorsing the resolution said that he speaks for the Armenian American community when he says that they stand in solidarity with the Hindu community in America.
Nick Labelle said “It is important to protect Hindu students against Hinduphobia” and “Reported incidents against Hindu students have increased since 2017”.