update deskSchools & Higher Education

Students meet with UVa administrators to protect Jewish students on grounds

“There are students who have been spat upon, shoved, that have called horrible names, antisemitic slurs,” recounted lawyer Joel Nied.

The rotunda at the University of Virginian in Charlottesville, Va. Credit: Aaron Josephson via Wikimedia Commons.
The rotunda at the University of Virginian in Charlottesville, Va. Credit: Aaron Josephson via Wikimedia Commons.

Multiple antisemitic incidents and displays of anti-Israel activism have led a group of students to meet with administrators at the University of Virginia and seek action.

Joel Nied, an attorney, accompanied the students to their meeting and described the environment they have been experiencing since the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel on Oct. 7, which led to the deaths of 1,200 people. “There is this movement on campus that is blatantly antisemitic,” he said.

He described how some Jewish students had been “spat upon, shoved, that have been called horrible names, antisemitic slurs.” Nied said that one student “has been so intimidated by students in his dorm, for peace of mind he has to move off campus and sleep elsewhere and stop wearing his yarmulke.” 

He reported that others “feel they need to tuck their jewelry, their Jewish stars into their sweaters and shirts so no one sees them. So, they’re hiding. They’re hiding their identity.”

Additional events raising alarm bells include some professors canceling classes in support of Palestine and a vote scheduled to take place on Wednesday—co-sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine—for the university to divest from Israel.

A faculty statement released after Oct. 7 advocated for the atrocity “to be viewed in context,” as Nied described—a word that would be hammered back to three university presidents two months later on Dec. 5, during a nearly four-hour-long U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing on campus antisemitism.

“I don’t know how anybody can try to contextualize what happened on Oct. 7 other than looking at it for what it was. It was a barbaric horrible attack. There’s no justification.”

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