(January 31, 2023 / JNS) A group of 300 clinicians, academics and trainees called Psychologists Against Antisemitism published a letter on Facebook today supporting psychology students at George Washington University, following allegations that a GW professor targeted them as Jews and Israelis.
“Although several letters have been disseminated in support of your instructor Dr. Lara Sheehi, we have not seen any support for the voiceless students,” the group wrote.
“Many of our psychology colleagues have chosen to label your experiences as ‘specious,’ without any evidence or knowledge of what really happened,” it added. “They have chosen to politicize this case and attack the media outlets and others who have given voice to your experiences, portraying them as right-wing and conspiratorial (an old antisemitic trope).”
The letter of support comes several weeks after StandWithUs filed a complaint against GW with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, alleging a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The professor, who is a facilitator of the program’s mandatory diversity course, targeted Jewish and Israeli students in fall 2022 in a pattern of persistent, discriminatory and retaliatory acts, per the complaint. That included disparaging and attacking their identities and encouraging others to do the same, it stated.
The university responded to the complaint with a broad condemnation of hate. “The George Washington University strongly condemns antisemitism and hatred, discrimination and bias in all forms,” it stated.
“Students have a legal right to learn in a hostile-free environment and to receive clinical training that prepares them for work with diverse people,” the letter added. “All students—including Jewish and Israeli students, deserve this as part of an accredited program preparing them for licensure as psychologists.”
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