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How to Combat Anti-Semitism on College Campuses

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Mass Amherst chapter.

Anti-semitic acts are a real issue across many college campuses. This is an issue that isn’t talked about enough, and one that some students may not understand. As a white, Jewish female, it is something I see a lot, and something I’ve experienced first hand. 

An anti-semitic act is one that displays hatred toward someone who is Jewish. This can take many forms including the practice of microaggressions, bullying, vandalism, and physical violence. This is not to say that we, as Jewish people, are the only group who face discrimination every day. Discrimination and hateful acts exist across all groups of people and is an issue that should be brought to all of our attention more. 

Last April, red spray-painted graffiti was found on the side of UMass Amherst’s Hillel building. The graffiti read “Palestine ” in Arabic. Not only was this a terrible anti-semitic act, but it took place on Yom HaShoah, Israel’s day of remembrance for the victims of the Holocaust. News of this discriminatory act quickly spread across campus, taking over social media posts and the internet for everyone to see. It was a sad and painful day. It was mind-blowing how a crime as minimal as painting graffiti onto property turned into a degrading and disgusting situation that created widespread anxiety for many Jewish students on campus. 

As someone who supports and believes in the Palestinian’s right to their own homeland, this was a clear demonstration of the deep-rooted hatred this individual(s) had for our campus temple and an act that should be held seriously with appropriate consequences.

So how can we do our part? Both as Jewish individuals and allies? We can educate ourselves. Educating myself is something I am continually working on and will always work on. We can try to understand situations from holistic points of view, working together with those we have a conflict with, to find a common ground and create a safe space for all students on campus.

We can also work on how we resolve conflict. Having strong feelings toward certain situations is a natural part of being human. How we handle these feelings and go about the actions we take is what makes us who we are as people. We must have conversations, speak honestly, and have an open mind. We must align ourselves with those who share common values and who have similar beliefs.

We also must be there for each other. Jewish or not, college campuses are a large community full of many things. Hatred should not be one of them. 

We can also be active members within our community. As intimidating and nerve-wracking it can be to stand up to someone causing harm or violence, we must not be passive bystanders. It starts with us. It starts with kindly calling out those who may not understand the extent of what they say or how they act. There are plenty of ways to calmly approach uncomfortable situations, so long as all involved are compliant. 

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Haley LaKind

U Mass Amherst '23

Haley LaKind is a junior Communication and Journalism double major on the Public Relations Track. She enjoys writing biweekly articles for Her Campus as well as running the chapter instagram page @hcumassamherst. Her hobbies include exercise, travel, journaling, and spending time with friends and family. At UMass she is also involved with UMass CHAARG and the Public Relations Club.