Friday, September 09, 2022

In recent years, there have been a number of antisemitic incidents at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

The most recent one was this week, where messages of hate towards Jewish student groups were chalked on campus sidewalks.

Here is the entire statement from the very same two people this week (emphasis mine):



It was a wonderful first day of classes on Wednesday in so many ways, from the sunshine to the great energy on Library Mall and Bascom Hill. We love seeing our students back on campus.

However, we were disappointed that this was marred by multiple sidewalk chalkings appearing around campus, targeting several Jewish student groups labeling them as “racist,” “genocidal,” and “having blood on their hands.” These labels are antisemitic: they attribute broad actions or beliefs to Jewish student groups.

OK, now that we have established that they are antisemitic, what should be done?

Nothing.

To those Jewish students and others affected, we are sorry for the impact this had on your first day of class at UW. We truly strive to create a campus where every student feels they belong, and this kind of messaging harms that goal and aspiration.

Our job as leaders is not to respond every time a controversial or offensive incident happens on our campus. However, these chalkings provide us a timely opportunity to express our expectations for civil engagement for the campus this fall and as we move forward together.

Here at UW, we believe in sifting and winnowing and a robust commitment to free speech. That can be difficult and uncomfortable at times. While we do not know who created these chalkings, and acknowledge the impact they had, nonetheless we also acknowledge they represent free speech which is a core value at UW. Just because something isn’t prohibited doesn’t make it a good idea. Our expectation is that we engage across differences and discuss varying views and ideas with civility and respect and that did not happen here.

We strongly believe that we learn best in environments that are inclusive and where people feel listened to and heard. Statements targeting students or other student groups, while not against the law or campus policy, violate our norms and actively work against the culture of belonging for which we are striving.

To our entire community, we hope you hear our calls for civility and kindness while at the same time, embracing vigorous, honest debate. Please use this semester to respectfully engage with one another while deepening our culture of belonging.  
The university admits that this was an antisemitic message. But instead of expressing a zero-tolerance policy towards antisemitism, UWM says that it is merely disappointing and an example of free speech - a core value! 

Can anyone imagine a similar reaction to an anti-Black message on campus? You don't have to imagine. 

In 2020, racist graffiti was sprayed on campus. And here was the reaction:

University of Wisconsin–Madison was alerted Thursday to racist graffiti that was spray painted on multiple buildings in the Library Mall area.

These racist and white supremacist messages run counter to university values. UW–Madison does not tolerate racist behaviors. We value a diverse community where all members feel welcome, safe and supported.

UW–Madison responds to all reported bias incidents. ...

Those in need of support for this or any other reason are encouraged to contact the Dean of Students Office, the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Educational Achievement, University Health Services , the Multicultural Student Center or the Employee Assistance Office.
Look how different the two messages are! 
For racism, the university does not tolerate the behavior, for antisemitism, there is no such message.
For racism, it says it responds to every such incident but for antisemitism, it cannot. 
It tries to protect students who are victims of racism by providing support services but doesn't offer anything like that to Jewish students here.
There is no call for "vigorous and honest debate" about racism but there is about antisemitism.

This is about ss egregious a double standard as can be imagined. And Jewish students on campus are hearing the message, loud and clear.








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