16 Groups Write to Chancellor Loftin Regarding Swastikas on Campus
To: Chancellor Loftin
April 16, 2015
Chancellor R. Bowen Loftin
Office of the Chancellor
105 Jesse Hall
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO 65211
Dear Chancellor Loftin,
We are 16 organizations representing hundreds of thousands of people who are very concerned about the safety and well-being of Jewish students at the University of Missouri.
We are troubled by reports of two separate incidents of antisemitic graffiti discovered in a stairwell of the Mark Twain dormitory on your campus last week. According to one account, the graffiti found on the morning of April 9 included a swastika, the Illuminati symbol, and the word “heil” drawn in ash on the wall. The graffiti was cleaned from the wall that day by residential life staff members. However on the evening of April 10, another swastika and the words “You’ve been warned” were discovered in the same area.
In the wake of these antisemitic incidents, Jewish students have expressed feeling targeted and unsafe at MU. Jared Kaufman, a resident of Mark Twain and president of Students Supporting Israel (SSI), said that he “felt threatened” and “very hurt” by the graffiti. Chantelle Moghadam, co-founder of SSI, stated, “It doesn’t make people feel safe to go to school here.” Thalia Sass, president of the Jewish Student Organization, added that “when incidents like this happen, it’s scary. This person [responsible for the graffiti] doesn’t know me but they hate me just because of the single aspect that I’m Jewish.”
Although we are aware that by late afternoon on April 14 you issued a strong statement condemning the antisemitic graffiti as “deplorable and unworthy of this institution and its values,” we are concerned that several days had gone by before before you spoke out publicly on the matter, causing some Jewish students to feel marginalized and ignored.
Campus antisemitism is a serious and growing problem. A recent study published by Trinity College and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law reveals that 54% of Jewish American college and university students report experiencing or witnessing antisemitism on campus in the recent school year. The research reveals that this is a much more widespread problem than most realized.
In the last year, more than 18 college and university campuses around the country have been defaced with swastikas, in each case causing particular distress to Jewish students. There have also been multiple reports of antisemitic name-calling, threats, assaults and other acts of hate and discrimination. These acts are often linked to anti-Israel activity on campus.
It is important to point out that Jewish students are not the only ones affected by such bigotry; it taints the entire university and undermines its educational mission and core values.
We encourage you to take the following steps to deter future acts of anti-Jewish bigotry and demonstrate unequivocally your commitment to protecting Jewish students and all students on your campus:
- Swiftly, forcefully and publicly acknowledge that swastika graffiti is an act of antisemitism 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.
Taking these steps will show your students, their parents, alumni, and the larger community that the University of Missouri stands firmly against bigotry and hatred, including antisemitism, and will protect all members of the campus community.
Thank you for considering our recommendations. We look forward to working with you to protect Jewish students.
Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi)
Americans for Peace and Tolerance
BEAR: Bias Education, Advocacy & Resources
CUFI on Campus
Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel
Iranian American Jewish Federation
Israeli-American Council (IAC)
Middle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN)
Proclaiming Justice to the Nations
Students and Parents Against Campus Anti-Semitism
Students Supporting Israel
The Israel Group
The Lawfare Project
Training and Education About the Middle East (T.E.A.M.)
Zionist Organization of America
Cc: Board of Curators
Garnett S. Stokes, Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Mizzou Hillel Staff