New Delhi: Rutgers University in Newark, US has issued a statement expressing support for Audrey Trucshke, who teaches South Asian history there, after people from the Hindu right-wing wrote an open letter to the varsity “expressing concerns” over the views she expressed on Twitter. In addition to this open letter that was reportedly signed by more than 5,000 people, the historian was subjected to a vicious online campaign and a number of violent threats.
“Rutgers emphatically supports Professor Truschke’s acadmic freedom in pursuing her scholarship, abhors the vile messages and threats that are being directed at her, and calls for an immediate end to them. Scholarship is sometimes controversial, perhaps especially when it is at the interface of history and religion, but the freedom to pursue such scholarship, as Professor Truschke does rigorously, is at the heart of the academic enterprise,” the university said in a statement.
— Rutgers-Newark (@Rutgers_Newark) March 9, 2021
In addition, the university has also said that it will begin a dialogue with members of the Hindu community who are studying at Rutgers. “…Rutgers emphatically affirms its support for all members of the Hindu community to study and live in an environment in which they not only feel safe, but also fully supported in their religious identity. After all, our academic excellence is inseparable from our diversity of perspectives and voices. We remain committed to fostering full, open, and respectful engagement on ideas across this spectrum.”
Truschke thanked the university administration for calling for an end to the online harassment she has been facing.
On Monday night, Truschke said she had been facing an “avalanche of hate speech, anti-Muslim sentiments, misogyny, violent threats, things endangering my family (yes, I have to leave that vague for safety reasons), and aggression towards my students”. Saying she was blocking thousands of accounts, she too called for the harassment to stop.
5,750 blocked accounts and counting.
In the last 3 days, I have endured an avalanche of hate speech, anti-Muslim sentiments, misogyny, violent threats, things endangering my family (yes, I have to leave that vague for safety reasons), and aggression towards my students.
— Dr. Audrey Truschke (@AudreyTruschke) March 8, 2021
Hindus for Human Rights, a US-based advocacy group, expressed its support for Truschke and said she is “not alone in the resistance to hate”.
— Hindus for Human Rights (@Hindus4HR) March 9, 2021
Truschke has been attacked by the Hindu Right several times in the last few years for her research on medieval India and her opinions.