A month after faculty members of Rutgers University defended ‘historian’ Audrey Truschke despite her anti-Hindu stance, a student-led organisation named ‘Hindu on Campus’ has come forward to share the testimonials of five current and prospective Hindu students.
The controversy began after a group of Hindu students wrote a letter to the University against Audrey Truschke for trying to trivialise and downplay the Hindu genocide committed by the Mughal tyrant Aurangzeb.
‘Hindu on Campus’, which aims to create a safe space for diaspora Hindus to share their experiences with racism and anti-Hindu bigotry, shared the experience of one verified current student. “I first chose Rutgers University because my friends and family members had previously attended. It felt like it was the safest option. Now that I am a part of this school, it is apparent that it’s not the place I want to be and not where I want to obtain my degree,” the student said in the testimonial.
He further added, “There are a few reasons why I am looking to transfer, some having to do with its academic aspects, but part of the reason I’m also looking to transfer comes from the university’s response to Hindu students looking to Rutgers to address their issues.”
Testimonials from 5 verified current + prospective students on the Hinduphobia case at Rutgers pic.twitter.com/ZnaahXJSr2— Hindu On Campus (@hinduoncampus) April 16, 2021
He pointed out that the response of the University was both disturbing and disappointing, given that the administration shielded Audrey Truschke under the garb of ‘academic freedom’. The student accused the authorities of gaslighting the issues raised by the Hindu students. “By labelling it as “academic freedom,” you are choosing to ignore those that the rhetoric imposed by this professor has hurt,” he added.
He emphasised that the second response of the university was more disappointing than the first. “Once I read the university’s second response, I honestly did not know how to feel. What I do know is that I was not assured. Words are not enough. When students make a plea to address their concerns, I believe a proper and prompt response is critical. I also think it is the university’s responsibility to make effective change to help those students; it’s an initiative I have not seen Rutgers take with this issue. For that reason, I have been let down by the university,” the student concluded.
Students share their testimonials about Rutgers University
Hindu on Campus shared the testimonial of another student who is a prospective student at Rutgers University. Highlighting that the University took no action against Hinduphobic Audrey Truschke, the emphasised, “The approach the Rutgers administration has maintained towards the case of Professor Truschke is extremely disappointing as well as scary. Rutgers now for me and my friends is a scary place, a place where my Hindu faith is not respected.” He reiterated that he will not apply to Rutgers under any circumstances.
A female graduate, who studied Himalayan arts and culture, also shared her testimonial. “As I am now searching for graduate schools designated for my area of study, Rutgers had been on my list of considerations. I have heard great things about the department and South Asian Studies Program,” she said. She said was appalled by the “bigoted views of (Audrey Truschke) against Hindus and other Dharmic religious groups on social media as well as in academia.”
‘Was disgusted to see Rutgers release a statement defending Truschke’, says student
“As a young Hindu woman myself, these views were all too familiar to the attacks that I have faced during my years in undergrad. As calls for action became more resounding, I wanted to see how the university intended on handling the situation. I was disgusted to see Rutgers release a statement defending her, and calling students who released and formed the open letter, online bullies,” the student reiterated.
She said, “How should I feel (about) attending this university when the institution won’t even protect students like me from bigotry? Should I even risk the prospective trauma that I may face at this school if I were attacked? As these questions swirled through my head, decided that it was time to make a final decision. I am no longer considering Rutgers for Graduate School.”
‘Diversity and Inclusion’ body at Rutgers blocks Hindu students group
Instead of listening to Hindu student concerns, Senior Vice President of “Diversity and Inclusion” blocked us.— Hindu On Campus (@hinduoncampus) April 16, 2021
It is very clear that “diversity and inclusion” does not include Hindu students at @RutgersU. pic.twitter.com/Deg3Bo2Kip
Another student wrote, “Due to their handling of Hinduphobic attacks done by Truschke and other entities, they have lost me as an award-winning, qualified applicant. I got into Rutgers Medical School. I will not attend due to their endorsement of Hinduphobic faculty.”
One student testified, “I applied to study History at Rutgers and was accepted days ago. After looking at its saddening public response, I, as a Hindu feel threatened by the sheer disregard the university has shown to my beliefs. Rutgers denies its Hindu students the basic courtesy that’s extended to students of all communities. Glib statements of ‘inclusion’ can’t correct for this overt discrimination. I regret even having submitted an application to that place.”
On pointing out the testimonials of verified current and prospective Hindu students, the Senior Vice President of ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ at Rutgers University blocked the Twitter handle of ‘Hindus on Campus’. The student organisation had shared a screenshot of its account being blocked by Enbong (Anna) Branch. “It is very clear that ‘diversity and inclusion’ does not include Hindu students at Rutgers University,” they wrote.
Hindu students expose Audrey Truschke’s Hinduphobia , Rutgers hails it as ‘academic freedom’
The controversy broke out after several Hindu students of Rutgers University had written a letter to the university in reaction to ‘historian’ Audrey Truschke’s attempts to sell Hinduphobic fiction in the name of ‘history. In its petition, the group of Hindu students studying at Rutgers-Newark pointed out that Audrey Truschke tried to trivialise and downplay the Hindu genocide committed by the Mughal tyrant Aurangzeb.
The students who initiated the petition were miffed with Truschke’s continuous vile and bigoted opinions against Hindus. In an open letter written to the university authorities, the students had said that they are “aghast at the bigotry being peddled against Hindus via continued derision of our religion, our deities, and our sacred texts” in the university, which may be a potential threat to their security, as it may lead to “potential attacks, bullying, and backlash, either on campus or via social media, due to our faith”.
The petition specified how the atmosphere in the university is at odds with the Hindu students due to the hateful and vile anti-Hindu remarks made by professor Audrey Truschke on various occasions. However, Rutgers University, instead of addressing the concerns of Hindu students, had backed Audrey Truschke and whitewashed her vile and bigoted anti-Hindu remarks as ‘academic freedom’. Meanwhile, the faculty members of the university had also extended their support to her.