Student Concerns About the Violence in Israel

A message sent to Lehigh faculty.

Dear Faculty,

A number of students have reached out to offices across the university because they are struggling to focus on academic work amid concerns about the violence in Israel and its impact on Israeli and Palestinian friends and family members. Several of these students have expressed that they are reluctant to ask faculty about possibly delaying or rescheduling assignments or assessments.

Given this situation, I am writing to ask you to consider discussing this issue with your students and make clear your thinking about delaying or rescheduling assignments and assessments. I understand that accommodating these kinds of requests can be challenging and is not always possible. When such adjustments are possible, please communicate with students proactively about their options. The goal would be to provide valuable clarity to students and reduce their uncertainty and anxiety. Such a discussion also will show that you and the university are concerned about their well being.

Providing this kind of flexibility for students is intended to reflect the emotional toll that global events such as the current violence in the Middle East can take on students. It is not driven by specific views about the roles of various actors in the current conflict. Rather, it is an attempt to support students who are having a human response to tragic events that affect people close to them and/or with whom they feel a sense of community.

Thank you for considering having this discussion with students in your classes and approaching it in a thoughtful manner that demonstrates empathy for what students and other members of our community are experiencing. If you find yourself experiencing high levels of worry and anxiety because of these events, please reach out to colleagues, family, and other members of your community for support, as well as support that is available to all Lehigh employees through HR. We all should be particularly mindful to treat others with respect and compassion during times such as these.

Nathan Urban