Emory University apologises over anti-Semitism
- 11 October 2012
- From the section US & Canada
A US university has apologised for years of anti-Semitism at its dental school going back decades.
Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, invited former Jewish students to meet with University President James Wagner.
More than 400 people attended the premiere of a documentary on Wednesday about the discrmination.
From 1948-61, it is estimated about 65% of Jewish students were kicked out after being told their grades were not good enough, or made to repeat courses.
The rate of failure or repeats was dramatically lower before that period, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).
"I'm sorry. We are sorry," Mr Wagner said on Wednesday at the documentary screening.
'A good school'
The documentary relies on video interviews collected by one of the forced-out students, Dr Perry Brickman, who went on to graduate with honours from the University of Tennessee's dental school.
"We knew individually and collectively what the truth was," Dr Brickman said. "But the truth in a situation like this is never really validated until the perpetrator says sorry."
"Nobody believed us," he added. "Even our parents said, 'Oh, you must not have studied enough. Emory's a good school. They wouldn't do anything like that."'
In one interview former student Ronald Goldstein recalls the dean, John Buhler, asking him: "Why do you Jews want to go into dentistry? You don't have it in the hands."
Another, George Marholin, recalls a professor coming into a room cursing at him and calling him a "damn Jew".
Under Mr Buhler, the dental school's application form designated prospective students as "Caucasian, Jew or Other".
The dean resigned after the Anti-Defamation League publicised the application.
At the time, Emory denied that his leaving had anything to do with allegations of anti-Semitism.
"We are grateful to President Wagner for his forthright leadership in acknowledging and apologising for a policy that has haunted many of the Jewish students throughout their long lives," Bill Nigut, ADL south-east regional director, said in a statement.
Dr Brickman said he was inspired to interview fellow students after a former classmate he had not spoken to in more than 55 years called him and said he still struggled every day over his Emory experience.
He then showed the dozens of interviews to Gary Hauk, the university's vice-president.
Mr Hauk commissioned father-son documentary filmmakers John and David Hughes Duke to interview Emory administrators and use the material for the documentary.