(JTA) — Babson College formally apologized to Brandeis University for the anti-Semitic behavior of its men’s soccer team 35 years ago.
Babson President Len Schlesinger delivered an official apology on Wednesday at the ADL New England headquarters of the Anti-Defamation League, according to Boston.com., and announced that the college is creating a partnership with the ADL aimed at eliminating bigotry on campus.
The apology is based on behavior by the Babson team as it approached a key game with Brandeis, a university with a historically large student population, on Nov. 4, 1978. The schools are located eight miles from each other in the western suburbs of Boston.
Prior to the game, according to an account released Tuesday by the ADL, the Babson squad hung signs in the gymnasium reading “Happy Holocaust.” Players also wore swastikas on their bodies for the final practice and yelled “Holocaust” and other anti-Semitic slurs to boost the team’s morale.
In addition to the formal apology, Schlesinger also wrote a letter to Brandeis President Frederick Lawrence earlier this month saying that “although it is some 35 years later, as president of this institution, I believe I have a fundamental responsibility to respond to what I have learned, including extending my most sincere public apology to the entire Brandeis community for the unconscionable behavior of Babson students.”
The Babson program with ADL is called “A Campus of Difference,” where college administrators, faculty and students will study stereotypes and work to rid the campus of bigotry, according to the ADL.
Robert Trestan, ADL’s New England regional director, commended Babson for responding to the situation.
“Hate and bigotry on college campuses are not just annoyances; they’re not just blips on the screen or incidents,” he said, “but they are a threat to the integrity of academic institutions and they present a serious challenge to their ability to carry out their mission.”
In the upcoming term, ADL will train 500 first-year students in a program being integrated into Babson’s orientation followed by a weeklong training program for faculty and staff.