Chancellor releases statement addressing antisemitism

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Chancellor releases statement addressing antisemitism

By The Daily Illini Staff Report

In a Massmail to University students, faculty and staff on Wednesday, Chancellor Robert Jones condemned discrimination and re-emphasized the University’s commitment to “tolerance and inclusion” in the wake of two events recognized as signs of growing anti-Semitism on campus.

In his statement, Jones referenced an instance of vandalism reported on Tuesday when a swastika was found carved into the wall of a bathroom stall in the Foreign Languages Building, as well as a recent presentation held by a University Housing student worker which included content that raised concerns as being antisemitic. 

The presentation was offered in a staff development program on diversity for University Housing employees, with the objective of helping students share both new ideas and perspectives for new understanding. 

The full contents of the presentation remain unclear, and Jones said the housing staff has been holding individual meetings with those present to understand the full scope of the event.

Jones said the University and the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs will take several immediate actions to prevent similar occurrences, including a review of hiring and training RAs and MAs, an external review of University Housing’s multicultural programs and “anti-Semitism training for all full-time housing staff, resident advisors and multicultural advocates.”

“We are taking immediate action to ensure that, going forward, our programs and initiatives position our students for success,” Jones said.

Erez Cohen, executive director of Illini Hillel at the University, said the “antisemitic” mandatory RA training was more shocking to him than the discovery of the swastika.

“With content celebrating martyrdom which promotes the deliberate killing of Jews, this training is truly terrifying the day after a shooting at a synagogue in Germany, and one year after the largest massacre of Jews on American soil,” Cohen said in an email.

Cohen said all groups are entitled to define the hatred against them, and the presentation was deeply antisemitic.

“Students shouldn’t have to feel unsafe in their dorms,” he said. “How can students feel safe knowing that the staff in their first home away from their parents has been trained to support the killing of others?”

Cohen said the University administration has the same freedom of speech as everyone else on campus.

“They should be able to be present and address the values of our University and never hide behind walls of silence,” he said. “We would like to see more involvement from administration, faculty and staff in fighting against hate and discrimination on campus.”

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