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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia panel a step in the right direction

On March 4, the UC Davis Middle East/South Asian Studies and Jewish Studies programs co-hosted a student panel titled “Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia: The Anatomy of Twin Hatreds” in the Student Community Center Multi-Purpose Room.

The event, moderated by history professor Susan Miller and comparative literature professor Noha Radwan, was held in light of recent campus climate related discussions surrounding Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism. The panel was designed to bring together the university community in discussion about experiences with acts of hate.

Originally scheduled to take place in the SCC Meeting Room D, with a capacity of 90, organizers of the panel moved the event to the SCC Multi-Purpose Room due to a higher-than-expected attendance. Yet, with only 190 seats available for attendees, even the larger room was not sufficient for the crowd of students, faculty, staff and local community members that were interested in attending the event.

The event reached capacity and doors were closed before the starting time of 4 p.m., with over 50 people waiting in a growing line to enter. As per the moderators’ request, a live video stream was not provided for those who could not secure a spot or attend the event at all. No audio or video recording was allowed for those present in the room.

Some professors cancelled class and offered extra credit for students who attended the panel, but many were not let in. The lack of appropriate capacity planning for the event was disappointing to the Editorial Board, as well as for those who were not able to participate in the panel discussion. We believe that all students should have the right to voice their opinions on matters that affect the entire university, and a capacity constraint should not be a reason for hindering a sustained dialogue.

The Editorial Board commends the departments and students involved in the event for taking a step in the right direction to improve campus dialogue regarding Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. We understand the need and importance of providing forums for the campus community to engage in this discussion.

Many of those that were in attendance at the event felt as though the panel was beneficial in providing an outlet for students to speak about their experiences, while also allowing attendees to understand the concepts and ask relevant questions. The Editorial Board hopes that larger and more accessible events similar to the panel will be planned in upcoming quarters so that this dialogue can be open to the greater campus community.

Graphic by Jennifer Wu.

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