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November 16, 2020 2:38 pm

University of Illinois Announces Steps to Address ‘Alarming’ Rise in Antisemitism on Campus

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The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) announced on Monday a series of steps it would take to address what has been described as an “alarming increase in anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist harassment and discrimination” at the school.

“We deplore anti-Semitic incidents on campus, including those that demonize or delegitimize Jewish and pro-Israel students or compare them to Nazis,” a statement issued by UIUC said.

“This subjects them to double standards that are not applied to others,” the statement continued. “All Jewish students, including those who identify with Israel or Jewish campus organizations, should be able to participate in campus activities aimed at fighting racism and achieving social justice.”

“All Jewish students should be able to proudly display religious emblems without fear of being targeted by their fellow students,” the statement noted. “All Jewish students should feel confident that if they encounter a swastika on campus, the university stands with them in rejecting symbols of hate. Anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at this university. We will stand united against all forms of anti-Semitism.”

The university went on to pledge to create an “Advisory Council on Jewish and Campus Life”; institute “focused and regularly recurring educational programming regarding anti-Semitism”; and “review, evaluate and, when necessary, revise procedures and practices so they are appropriately aligned with shared values opposing discrimination and harassment on campus, including anti-Semitic actions.”

In September, a complaint filed with the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) detailed allegations of widespread antisemitism at UIUC.

Following Monday’s announcement by UIUC, the Jewish United Fund Chicago, Illini Hillel, Hillel International, Illini Chabad, the Arnold & Porter law firm and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law thanked UIUC Chancellor Robert Jones for “recognizing as ‘unacceptable’ the anti-Semitic harassment Jewish students at UIUC have experienced for years and committing that ‘the university must do more.’”

“The chancellor’s validation of these students’ painful experiences is significant,” they pointed out.

They continued:

“This statement and the commitment it demonstrates is important, however, it is only a first step. It pledges the university to adhere to its legal obligations to respond to anti-Semitism as it manifests itself today at the University of Illinois. In particular, the university properly recognizes that ‘anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism, and other forms of discrimination have no place at this university.’ The next steps will involve real work, including, among others, focused and regularly recurring educational programming regarding anti-Semitism, review and revision of practices and procedures, and the creation of an Advisory Council on Jewish and Campus Life that will consist of stakeholders who are ‘committed to the principles set forth in this statement.’”

“We look forward to ongoing collaborative work with the chancellor and his team to convert the objectives outlined today into action that achieves our shared, common values, including the freedom and security of all University of Illinois students,” they concluded.

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