Twenty-six anti-Semitism watchdog groups issued a joint letter to Stanford University President John Hennessy, lauding him for condemning the vandalism of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity house which was defaced with swastikas this past weekend, and imploring him to take additional steps to protect Jewish students on campus; particularly with the rise of antisemitism throughout many college campuses in California and especially through the strengthening of BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movements targeting Israel.
Hennessy issued a response to the vandalism on Monday, stating that he is “deeply trouble by the act of vandalism, including symbols of hate, that has marred our campus” noting that the school will be investigating the incident.
In their letter to Hennessy on Tuesday, the groups encouraged him “to take the following steps to deter future acts of anti-Jewish bigotry” and to demonstrate his “commitment to protecting Jewish students and all students across” Stanford’s campus:
- Swiftly, forcefully and publicly acknowledge that swastika graffiti is an act of anti-Semitism and will not be tolerated on campus
- Publicly commit to educating University staff, including campus police, in identifying antisemitism and antisemitic hate crimes
- Formally adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of antisemitism to fully and accurately identify all future acts of hate toward Jews.
- Allocate resources and publicly commit to educating students about antisemitism and anti-Jewish discrimination.
The incident at Stanford took place just weeks after a Jewish student, Molly Horowitz, filed a complaint alleging that her faith had been questioned during her candidacy for a position on Stanford’s student Senate. Prior to that, a Jewish student at UCLA, Rachel Beyda, was targeted for her faith during the nomination process for a position on the student council’s Judicial Board.
The letter to Hennessy details that over 20 college and university campuses throughout the United States have been defaced with swastikas over the course of the last year. In all cases, Jewish students were the direct targets. The swastika is universally acknowledged as the symbol worn by the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler in Germany during the Holocaust, which resulted in the systematic execution of six million Jews at the hands of Nazi guards.
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter: @AdelleNaz