Florida State University (FSU) President John Thrasher announced in an Aug. 12 statement that the university has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism and is going to take other measures to combat anti-Semitism on campus.
Thrasher acknowledged that anti-Semitism is one of the “oldest forms of bigotry” and that FSU is joining the state of Florida and the State Department in recognizing the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.
“In July, the FSU Student Body Executive Cabinet adopted the IHRA definition of Antisemitism, and the Student Senate passed Resolution 59, which adopts the IHRA definition of Antisemitism,” Thrasher said, adding that the students deserved credit for these actions and that the university needs to take further action on the matter.
“Therefore, FSU administrators, led by Vice President for Student Affairs Amy Hecht, have been working closely throughout the summer with Jewish student leaders, Hillel at FSU leadership, Jewish alumni and local Jewish organizations,” Thrasher said. “Together, we have created a task force to review Jewish student life on campus and develop recommendations for Vice President Hecht to consider by Sept. 7, 2020. We will conduct a student campus survey on Jewish student life at FSU and Antisemitism. The task force will use a questionnaire developed by Hillel at FSU as a basis for initial discussions.”
Additionally, the university will be adding a new Student Equity and Inclusion Director, implement staff training on anti-Semitism, establish a Jewish Alumni Network and reestablishing the university’s Jewish Student Union.
“I want to reaffirm that this is a top priority,” Thrasher said. “My university leadership team and I will continue to work determinedly to combat Antisemitism and unlawful behavior. While freedom of speech is of paramount importance on a college campus, so is creating a climate of acceptance and appreciation for the value and richness of the many cultures and ideas that make Florida State University such an excellent academic experience.”
Jewish groups praised Thrasher’s statement.
“Thank you @FSUPresThrasher for taking critical steps to create a healthier campus community for Jewish students at @FloridaState,” the American Jewish Committee tweeted. “We join you in encouraging everyone to educate themselves on @TheIHRA definition and examples of antisemitism.’”
Thank you @FSUPresThrasher for taking critical steps to create a healthier campus community for Jewish students at @FloridaState. We join you in encouraging "everyone to educate themselves on @TheIHRA definition and examples of antisemitism." https://t.co/Q0mRDjJsBr
— American Jewish Committee (@AJCGlobal) August 13, 2020
StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism Carly Gammill said in a statement, “We agree with President Thrasher’s position that just as the ‘freedom of speech is of paramount importance on a college campus, so is creating a climate of acceptance and appreciation for the value and richness of the many cultures and ideas’ that make for ‘an excellent academic experience.’”
Lioz Grunberger, a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow at FSU, similarly said in a statement, “It’s wonderful to be able to look at the statements the administration has released in the past, compare it to the one released today, and to see the progress made. The administration has helped the Jewish community substantially, and I am more than excited to start working side by side with the administration, alumni, faculty and my fellow students to protect and amplify the Jewish students and voices on campus. While I wish this problem was addressed sooner so my community and I didn’t have to endure so much pain, I am glad we are headed in the right direction.”
The Israeli-American Council also praised Thrasher in a statement “for setting a leading example for universities across the U.S in how to combat the ongoing rise in antisemitic incidents, harassment, discrimination and the overall normalization of antisemitism on campus. We hope that administrations across the country will choose to address the issues that Jewish students face on campus today, by taking similar steps in providing a safer campus experience for our students.”
Thrasher’s announcement came after FSU Student Senate President Ahmad Daraldik was under fire for past social media posts stating “f— Israel” and “stupid jew” as well as a website apparently belonging to him that compared the Israeli government to the Nazis. Daraldik, a Palestinian American, later said his “f— Israel” stemmed from a bad experience he had at an Israeli checkpoint.