A Dialogue on Antisemitism at American University

Last night, I had an amazing opportunity to hold a conversation on my campus about the prevalence of antisemitism on my campus. I am BLOWN AWAY by how incredible this dialogue turned out. Nearly 40 people from dozens of campus organizations and offices came. This included staff, students, and faculty, both Jewish and non-Jewish. The folks at this event asked some wonderful and thoughtful questions, unpacked their assumptions, and were excited to learn more about the realities of antisemitism.

If you weren’t able to attend this event, check out the info packet and supplementary readings below! They’re chock-full of great information and resources.

Educational Dialogue-Steph Black-compressed

Supplementary Readings- Educational Dialogue-Steph Black-compressed

This event came about because of an antisemitic postering incident on our campus back in February. Unfortunately, this is not the first postering of its kind, and previous posterings have targeted Black and African American students and again targeted Latinx and immigrant students. After both of those events, there was a massive outcry by large numbers of students, staff, and faculty who were both directly and indirectly affected by the posters.

And yet, when it was the Jews who were affected, very, very few spoke out. Not one to sit idly by and continue a pattern of internalization of antisemitism, I set out to see what students were feeling. I reached out individually to about a dozen Jewish students, both involved in Hillel and non-Hillel related students. And I heard a lot of feedback about 1) Not wanting to continue to give those perpetrating these incidents more attention 2) not having a clear understanding about the nature of antisemitism and whether or not this event counted as such.

I heard this feedback. While I did want to draw attention to the incident as someone who was deeply hurt by it, and as someone who very much did see this incident as clearly antisemitic, I knew that I could not (and simply would not) speak for my peers. So with that, I met with Jason B, the Hillel Director, and Dr. Aw, the VP of Campus Life, Tiffany Speaks, the Director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, literally dozens of students (Jewish and non-Jewish), I settled on holding three events.

The first was an inward facing event for just Jewish students. This event was for Jewish students to ask questions, discuss, and process the postering that happened. While this event had a small turnout, the conversation was nonetheless important.

The second event was an outward facing event for just students but would include Jewish and non-Jewish students to continue this processing. This event had a bigger turnout and the conversation lasted over two hours with an array of student representation.

And the third event, mentioned above,  was a dialogue between Jewish and non-Jewish staff student and faculty.

I am so grateful to all of those who helped with the success of these events: Jason Benkendorf, Fanta Aw, Tiffany Speaks, Michelle Strange, Courtney Rozen, Mollie Feldman, Michaela Brown, and Bar Galin and to all of my friends who gave me words of encouragement.



Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: