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'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Letter to the Editor: When I say Pro Humanitate, I mean it. Do you?

In a letter to President Dr. Susan Wente, Rachel Severance, a 2015 Wake Forest graduate, addresses her concerns about the university’s response to the Israel-Hamas war.
Sophie Guymon
Rachel Severance writes that the university has not been living up to its motto, Pro Humanitate.

President Wente,

It’s about us, and the greater meaning of what it means to be human. Our motto, Pro Humanitate (For Humanity), is a calling to use our knowledge, talents and compassion to better the lives of others. It can mean donating time and resources to our communities or simply a lifelong commitment to pursuing our best self. No matter your personal interpretation, it’s an opportunity to leave the world better than we found it.

Since Oct. 4, 2010, the day I received my early-decision acceptance letter in the mail, I have been proud to be a Demon Deacon. I have been vocal about my love for the Old Gold & Black throughout my time at Wake and into my career. I have loved giving back to the school, including my time dedicated to helping current students network and speaking to the students in the SportsBiz program each summer. I have always felt a sense of pride and honor to be able to give back to the university in these ways and ensure that everyone who meets me knows I’m proud to be a Demon Deacon.

In the spirit of truly living out the motto of Pro Humanitate, I will no longer sit silently and watch as Wake Forest fails to support its students when they need it most. I will voice my concern as I read through your blog and am confused that you discussed the Weaver fertilizer fire of last year in Winston-Salem when also addressing the Hamas terrorist attacks, as both “create space for dialogue, debate, and discussion.” The fertilizer fire is completely irrelevant to the atrocities occurring in Israel and most of the blog feels like a distraction for the true dialogue and learning that are desperately needed right now.  I will speak up when I read the student newspaper and see that they simply called Hamas a militant group and failed to refer to them as a Foreign Terrorist Organization as defined by the US Department of State. When I see Professor Laura Mullen, William R. Kenan Jr. Chair in the Humanities, has joked about shooting up music festivals and blames the deaths of thousands of innocent people on themselves, implying any human could deserve such fate, I will be shouting out my disapproval for the world to see.

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Her account was only made private within the last few hours (Editor’s Note: The Old Gold & Black is publishing this letter as it was written to Wente on Oct. 21, the date on which Mullen’s account became private), but it was public for more than one week after this was posted.

Wake Forest needs to create a safe space for students to have discussions, to learn, to make mistakes and to ultimately better the world. There should be zero tolerance for the hatred and antisemitism shown by Professor Mullen. She is a professor teaching the Wake Forest student population, and to say that she does not reflect the views of the university is inappropriate and inaccurate as long as she remains employed. I strongly urge you to reconsider her position as a professor of the university. How can any Jewish or Israeli student feel safe in her classroom? She is not inviting dialogue or encouraging learning and understanding. She is justifying a horrific terrorist attack that resulted in the brutal rape and murder of innocent human beings.

Please do not send me any letters asking for donations or ask me to speak with students.  All my effort now will be directed toward supporting the students of Wake Forest University Hillel (as I proudly served as vice president of the student organization while at Wake Forest), and ensuring everyone is aware of Wake Forest’s failure to create a safe environment conducive to leaving the world better than we found it. I will also be using my dollars to support American Friends of Magen David Adom, Israel’s version of the Red Cross and Paramedic Services, as this is a better way to support Pro Humanitate. Until you can ensure all of your Jewish students feel safe, you stand up to terror, speak out against Hamas, shut down all pro-terror student organizations and fire Professor Mullen for her very public antisemitic remarks, I am not proud to be a Deacon. I am disappointed and heartbroken.

President Wente, when I say Pro Humanitate, I mean it. Do you?

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  • A

    Alissa TrujilloNov 1, 2023 at 11:05 am

    Well done, Rachel! You identified the very points I, myself, put to paper and sent to the university’s office of the chaplaincy. It is clear that you embody the very essence and spirit of Pro Humanitate. Thank you for using your voice and your dollars to stand up for Jews and against Jew hate everywhere.

  • Z

    ZoeOct 28, 2023 at 7:52 am

    Well said Rachel! You have, and continue to embody Pro Humanitate through your actions and your advocacy. Our Jewish students deserve action, and deserve to feel safe. I am looking forward to seeing how WFU addresses these statements made by prof Mullens