UW Madison Faculty Hopes Anti-Semitic Graffiti On First Day of School Will Lead to “Honest Debate”

On the first day back to school, Jewish students attending the liberal University of Wisconsin at Madison, were welcomed with anti-Semitic graffiti and harassment.

A statement posted on the university’s website reads:

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.

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.

The faculty then seemed to suggest a legitimate grievance lay beneath the racist attack that deserves further discussion.

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 antisemitic watchdog group StopAntisemitism said the administration’s call for debate as a response to hate speech was “sickening” and blasted DEI Chief LaVar Charleston and Vice Chancellor Lori Reesor .

This isn’t the first time Jewish students were smeared and targeted at UW-Madison.

Just this spring university administrators were forced to address antisemitic rage on campus:

UW-Madison values a diverse community where people of all religions, races, ethnicities, identities, and cultures feel safe, welcome and supported. The university’s diversity is its strength.

A report from the Anti-Defamation League finds antisemitism has been on the rise, including on college campuses. We are dismayed to share that several concerning incidents have also been reported recently by members of our campus community:

  • A swastika etched into a residence hall community bathroom stall.
  • Antisemitic slurs yelled at a student on Langdon Street.
  • An individual who said they had been harassed for “looking Jewish.”


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Thanks for sharing!