Members and allies of the Jewish community rallied on the Student Union Lawn Monday afternoon to condemn the recent bias incidents targeting Jewish students — and to call on the University of Connecticut to take concrete action against antisemitism.
“A Solidarity Gathering to Fight Antisemitism,” organized by UConn Hillel, lasted from 3:30 to 5 p.m. and included speeches from student activists, leaders from the Connecticut Jewish community, Undergraduate Student Government (USG) representatives and UConn President Thomas Katsouleas.
Students urged the university to design a one-credit course to educate students on antisemitism and to present a plan to USG by April 9 to address campus antisemitism.
“A lot of students on campus are disappointed by the university’s approach of making statements and not making any concrete actions,” said Dori Jacobs, a sixth-semester psychology and applied mathematics major and Hillel student board president. “It was great to see Jews and non-Jews coming together to say that antisemitism isn’t acceptable on our campus.”
UConn Hillel reported seven antisemitic incidents during the 2020-2021 school year, including Nazi graffiti and harassment. Jewish students said they began to question their safety after these events.
“We are scared. We are confused. We want answers. We want it to stop. We want change. We want to feel safe because right now we don’t.” said Ryan Murace, an eighth-semester psychology major and Hillel student board member. “This is the first time in my life where I have felt that I need to start considering whether or not I need to conceal the fact that I’m Jewish. I just never thought that would happen.”
President Katsouleas said the administration will continue to “call out” perpetrators of hate. He said that victims of bias incidents have UConn’s support and love, and that the university will work towards improvement.
Students said that they are dissatisfied with UConn’s statements denouncing antisemitism and instead want to see proactive action to prevent it. Speakers shared how they do not want to wait for a bomb threat, shooting or other acts of violence for UConn to take action.
“We cannot dismiss these acts of hatred because they are not ‘bad enough’; every act of antisemitism is horrific and traumatic. It is scary that the university has done nothing of substance to address this, because, what will it take?” said Sarah Soucy, an eighth-semester allied health sciences major and Hillel intern. “We deserve to feel safe in our classes, and in our dorms, and in our jobs, and where we pray.”