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Campus Watch October 5, 2023

A roundup of incidents, good and bad, happening on college campuses.
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October 5, 2023

Rice University LGBTQ+ Student Group Ceases Ties with Hillel

Rice University’s LGBTQ+ student group, Rice Pride, severed ties with Houston Hillel on September 18.

The Rice Thresher, the university’s weekly student paper, reported that Rice Pride based their decision on the actions of Hillel International rather than Houston Hillel itself. The LGBTQ+ student group alleged that Hillel has a “problematic” bias “against people from Palestinian background and their allies,” citing the recent controversy over the University of Pennsylvania hosting the Palestine Writes Literature Festival as an example. Rice Pride Co-President Jorge Arnez told the Thresher that Hillel’s standards of partnership “have been used to exclude Palestinian or Arab students” at other campuses.

Houston Hillel responded in a statement posted to Instagram saying that the Rice Pride’s decision “not only alienates queer Jewish students and leaves them unsure of their own acceptance at Rice Pride spaces, but also damages the campus climate for all Jewish students.” Houston Hillel also claimed that Rice Pride based their decision on “outdated sources and various Hillel websites” that “do not reflect current Houston Hillel policies or practice.” Rice Pride Co-President Cole Holladay told the Thresher that Rice Pride is not trying to alienate queer Jewish students and that the decision to cut ties with Hillel was intended “to maximize our inclusivity, not to trade one group of students for another, which we felt like was going on with this partnership [with Hillel].”

White House: Eight Federal Agencies to Use Title VI of Civil Rights Act to Fight Antisemitism

The White House announced in a fact sheet on September 28 that eight federal departments will be using Title VI of the Civil Rights Act as a tool to fight antisemitism.

The eight departments are the Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, Transportation and Treasury. The White House announcement states that these departments are clarifying that Title VI “prohibits certain forms of antisemitic, Islamophobic, and related forms of discrimination in federally funded programs and activities” and are part of the Biden administration’s National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.

ASU Student Reportedly Admits to Vandalizing Cronkite School with Nazi Graffiti

A student at Arizona State University (ASU) has reportedly admitted to vandalizing the university’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism with Nazi graffiti.

The State Press, ASU’s independent student-run newspaper, reported that the graffiti included a swastika and the white supremacist numerical symbol 1488 spray-painted on a sign for a photo exhibition that included pictures from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. FOX 10 Phoenix reported that, according to university police, Denis Zyalik, 27, admitted to doing the graffiti; The Arizona Republic also reported that court documents state that Zyalik admitted to police that he did the graffiti. He has been charged with aggravated criminal damage, according to the Jewish News of Greater Phoenix.

University President Michael Crow said in a statement to The Arizona Republic: “Let there be no confusion that while ASU vigorously protects freedom of expression for all members of our community, we recognize the difference between that constitutional right and activities orchestrated to provoke, incite or agitate with the intention of creating an environment of intimidation and fear. We see those who perpetrate such actions under the cover of darkness for what they are: weak and hateful fear-mongers and cowards.”

Swastika Found at Weber State University During Yom Kippur

A swastika was found carved onto a table at Weber State University’s (WSU) student union building on September 25 during Yom Kippur.

ABC4 Utah reported that the table has since removed from the building and university police are investigating the matter. “Weber State University condemns actions that perpetuate racism or make people feel unsafe, and the symbol scrawled on WSU property is not consistent with the values of the university, which strives to create an inclusive environment where all are welcome,” University Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Adrienne Andrews said in statement. 

Police Say Two UMich Students Were Behind Homophobic Graffiti in Front of Jewish Resource Center

The police in Ann Arbor, MI have reportedly identified two students at the University of Michigan as being responsible for spray-painting homophobic graffiti on the sidewalk in front of the Jewish Resource Center.

The Michigan Daily reported that the suspects are a male and female who were “heavily intoxicated” and seen on surveillance footage spray-painting the graffiti. The Jewish Resource Center will not be pressing charges against the two suspects.

Swastika Graffiti Found at High School in New Mexico

A high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico was found laced with graffiti of swastikas, genitalia and racial slurs on September 29.

The Albuquerque Journal reported that the graffiti was “widespread” across the campus at La Cueva High School. Police are investigating the matter.

Principal Dana Lee said in a letter to parents that the graffiti was “unacceptable.” “No one should ever feel uncomfortable, marginalized, or fearful, particularly on a public school campus,” Lee wrote. “We are committed to ensuring that our schools are safe havens where all students are respected and nurtured, can achieve and grow, and are guaranteed equity and justice.”

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