UCONN: Take Action against Antisemitism and Listen to your Jewish Students
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In April 1945, nearly 76 years before I sat down to write this petition, The United States Armed Forces liberated the Buchenwald, Dachau, Dora-Mittelbau, and Flossenburg concentration camps in Europe. Approximately 6 million Jews (not including other groups) were murdered in the four years that make up the Holocaust. To many, The Holocaust is something unimaginable by today's standards -- it's a dark period of history marred with bloodshed and an infringement on everything that we, as Americans, stand for. We like to think that antisemitism is an issue of the past, but as any Jewish person would tell you at the University of Connecticut -- it is actually a very current issue. There have been over SEVEN incidents of antisemitism on the campus of UCONN this past school year and we, the students, are very concerned. Here's why:
All of the information I will be referring to here is from the center for Jewish Life at the University of Connecticut -- UCONN Hillel. Please support them during this time.
The first incident occurred on October 7th, 2020. An RA in the South Campus at Rosebrooks Hall noticed that a student had written "The Third Reich" on a whiteboard attached to a dorm room door. A week passed and the UCONN Administration did nothing. As a student at UCONN, I never received an email from the administration denouncing this -- instead, they released a statement on their website nearly a month later, which you have to search to find.
The second incident occurred on February 18th, 2021 when a swastika was found in a men's bathroom in the Biology/Physics Building.
Between this second incident and March 26th, 3 more antisemitic incidents are said to have occurred (though I cannot find the specific details of each individual event) which correlates with the recent rise in antisemitism beginning a few years ago.
The fifth incident occurred on March 27th, 2021. A swastika was found graffitied on the Chemistry building, directly facing the UCONN Hillel building. This is especially upsetting as this happened during the Jewish holiday of Passover.
The sixth incident was a day later, March 28th, 2021. A Jewish student was walking near the infamous Mirror Lake, holding a kippah (also referred to in Yiddish as a yarmulke: ya-MAH-ka) and carrying a box of matzah when a student driving in their car nearby slowed down and yelled antisemitic comments at the other student.
What we need UCONN to do:
1. Listen to Jewish Students. Comments made weeks ago by Jewish students and allies are seen asking UCONN to help protect them or talking about how they feel unsafe. One girl remarks how the Jewish community is begging UCONN to respond and that they are doing nothing. Another person comments "I can't be here" and speaks of applying to a different school while others question why little has been done to stop these incidents. UCONN recently released a statement saying they are investigating these incidents alongside anti LGBTQ+ rhetoric. A statement and denouncement of antisemitism is a great first step but it pales in comparison to actually taking action and protecting your students. The hypocrisy of the administration to denounce antisemitism yet not actually protect and listen to Jewish students is clearly evidenced by the comment section. the Jewish students at UCONN need more support.
2. Find a Solution. UCONN could also easily catch these incidents if they were to implement security cameras as many on both the UCONN Hillel and UCONN Instagram have pointed out. UCONN could also require or at least offer a course to all students to take a class regarding antisemitism in modern-day America. Many Jewish activists and students, in general, have great ideas on how to address this situation, however, it is not our job. Our job is to attend school -- UCONN has to be the one to ultimately find a solution that works and appeases the Jewish community.
3. Update us. Students, especially those who are off campus due to the pandemic, deserve to know what is happening at their school. We should hear about incidents like these FROM the university. Most of the student body only knows about these incidents because UCONN Hillel is keeping us updated while the administration stays silent.
We pay to go to UCONN. Each and every student deserves a safe environment that fosters learning and respect -- regardless of religious beliefs, race, sexuality, or gender. Why should anyone keep supporting a University financially that makes them feel unwanted?
How you can help:
Sign and Share this petition. Send the link to your grandmother who graduated from here years ago or post in a facebook group. If UCONN won't listen to their own students, maybe they will listen if this receives enough attention.
Listen to and support your Jewish friends.
Support Organizations like UCONN Hillel. If you don't go to UCONN, look for similar organizations or the center of Jewish life for your own college campus.
And lastly, include Jewish people in your activism.
If anyone wants to reach out you can contact me on instagram at @uconn.husky
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