University offers insufficient response to anti-Semitic fliers
On Monday, Oct. 8, anti-Semitic fliers appearing blame Jews for opposition to the Supreme Court confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh were posted in numerous locations around campus. These fliers were also posted at UC Berkeley, Vassar and Marist colleges. The fliers were credited to a book club of The Daily Stormer — a local group of alt-right, white supremacist, Holocaust-denying neo-Nazis.
First and foremost, the Editorial Board condemns, in the strongest possible terms, anti-Semitism of any kind. It is especially frightening and vile to see such a targeted attack on the UC Davis campus.
Anti-Semitism on campus is nothing new. Two years ago, the same neo-Nazi group credited with this attack remotely sent anti-Semitic fliers to printers on campus. Given the history of anti-Jewish discrimination on campus, the university’s response to the posting of the fliers Monday should have worked to assuage deeply-rooted fears among the Jewish population with strong language and a proposed plan of action.
Instead the university’s response was disorganized, with grammatical errors and incorrect links to unrelated campus resources appearing in the initial draft of the chancellor’s statement. This situation warrants not only an official university response, at a bare minimum, but a strong stance. Not once did the chancellor mention the Jewish community or Jews in his statement, the group most affected by this aimed attack.
The Editorial Board stands in support of the myriad Jewish organizations calling for a more substantial response from the administration, in the form of trainings, mental health support and counseling for Jewish students.
Chancellor Gary May has responded to and said he is willing to accept these demands. In this response he also said mass e-mails are “reserved for imminent threats and emergencies.”
It is, however, frustrating that a campus-wide email has not and will not be sent out to all UC Davis students and staff members. Especially when the Office of the Chancellor sent a campus-wide email during AFSCME’s three-day protest last year and an email was sent from the university before Picnic Day.
It seems that an anti-Semitic attack targeting Jews, credited to a neo-Nazi group, could well be seen as threatening. University leaders — not social media — should inform students when incidents like these occur as well as the resources available to them.
As a response to the posting of the fliers, ASUCD’s Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission scheduled a Facebook event offering a safe space for individuals to discuss the anti-Semitic attack as well as an appropriate response action to the incident. ECAC did not, however, reach out to Jewish organizations or Jewish student leaders when coordinating the event — a huge and blatant oversight.
While university administrators and student government leaders might have good intentions with their responses, to not explicitly acknowledge or reach out to the group being chiefly targeted is incomprehensible. These haphazard actions are a huge disservice to the Jewish community at a time when they deserve and need the most support.
Well-intentioned groups must also understand that anti-Semitism exists on both the right and the left — in both explicit and implicit forms. Certain leftist groups have historically excluded Jews from liberal spaces because of actual or assumed Zionist ideologies. Anti-Semitism is often wrongly delegitimized. Like any other reprehensible form of discrimination, this form of hatred must be unequivocally and unilaterally condemned and denounced by university and student leaders.
It is undeniable that anti-Semitism is present on campus and in the Davis community. This is not a solitary incident and should not be treated as such. Discrimination in this form requires and deserves both short-term and long-term action. The campus community must know that anti-Semitism of any kind will not be tolerated.
Written by: The Editorial Board