Editorial: Practice what you preach

Casey Orledge/THE REVIEW

An anti-Semitic poster was found outside of Kirkbride Hall last Tuesday. The poster displayed two hands symbolically grabbing hold of the United States –– one with a hammer and sickle, a Communist symbol originating from the Russian Revolution, and the other with the Star of David, a symbol of the Jewish faith.

The poster was removed soon after a student reported it to Hillel, the most prominent on-campus Jewish organization, and the largest Jewish campus organization in the world. Hillel then contacted the University of Delaware Police Department (UDPD).

The following day, an email was sent through Hillel’s email list, notifying Hillel-affiliated students at the university exclusively. The email contained two letters: one from Hillel Executive Director Donna Schwartz and one from Interim Vice President for Student Life Jose-Luis Riera.

Riera noted that the incident “is not what our university community is about” and reiterated that the university “values diversity and inclusion.” The Review confirmed that only Hillel-affiliated students received this email.

Reaching out to officially Hillel-affiliated students and only officially Hillel-affiliated students reinforces the disheartening and disappointing concept of victim blaming. It reinforces that Jewish university students were the only segment of the university population affected by this incident, a definitive hate crime. By doing this, the university establishes a poor precedent. They singled out and ostracized the on-campus, Hillel-affiliated Jewish population, marking them as a “target group” while ignoring the remainder of the study body.

If the university truly values diversity and inclusion, then Riera’s message needed to be broadcasted to all university students and faculty. This anti-Semitic demonstration is one that must be treated with the same seriousness and diligence as any other racist, xenophobic or homophobic transgression on our campus.

But our university has a habit of hiding the truth as opposed to confronting it, with specific relevance to on-campus demonstrations of hate and violence.

When Milo Yiannopoulos, a figurehead of the Alt-Right and a transgender-hating gay man, came to campus last fall, the university again failed to condemn the hate and violence he encouraged.

At a pivotal time for race relations within America –– when too many of those with privilege refuse to acknowledge that privilege –– the university is ever-so-slowly approaching the same trap that is already occupied by those who criticize NFL players for kneeling without asking them why they choose to do so.

Jewish students need support from non-Jewish students, but this is not possible if non-Jewish students are not aware of the hate crime altogether. This is not possible if the university fails to denounce this hate and call on the entire community to stand together, be aware and hold each other accountable.

President Dennis Assanis was silent. The UDPD –– besides quickly removing the poster –– was silent. An entire forum Monday afternoon –– devoted toward providing students a safe space to express their thoughts as the university discusses the creation of a multicultural center –– included no mention of the poster.

To the administration that controls all major decisions at this university –– this is unacceptable, but also not surprising. This anti-Semitic poster must be emphatically denounced and condemned. Otherwise, it’s very clear that we as a university do not value diversity and inclusion.

Editorials are developed by The Review’s Editorial Board, led this week by Managing Sports Editor Teddy Gelman. He can be reached at tgelman@udel.edu.

Correction: In September 2015 the University of Delaware Police Department investigated an alleged appearance of nooses on the green as a possible hate crime. The alleged nooses were subsequently confirmed to be the leftovers of paper lanterns from a summer event.

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