Anti-Semitic movements have become increasingly active across college campuses, especially in Florida. Earlier this month, the group, “Ye is Right,” visited the University of Florida, Florida State University and University of Central Florida to spread antisemitic messages. The hate group wrote antisemitic messages with chalk around University of Florida.
Hillel International, known as the “foundation for Jewish life on campus” and the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that works to prevent hate crimes published a report, finding that “nearly one-third of Jewish students personally experienced antisemitism directed at them on campus or by a member of the campus community” in 2021.
While the group, “Ye is Right” has not visited the University of Miami, that does not mean Jewish students are immune to experiencing hate on campus. Currently, there is no Jewish student representative on UM’s DEI committee. Some universities have begun taking steps to address the issue, such as the Jewish Faculty and Staff Council, which has urged Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis to consider including “Jewish individuals on DEI committees.”
Vice President of Engagement for UM Hillel and a sophomore political science and public relations major Betty Srour was raised in a Modern Orthodox community and attended yeshiva, an Orthodox Jewish school.
“I like to call it a bubble that I grew up in, it was a safe bubble, and I’m grateful to have grown up in that environment because it instilled values,” Srour said. “I never knew there was a spectrum of antisemitism–that there were microaggressions to the Holocaust and everything in between.”
After being in Miami for two years, she has endured anti-semitic tropes that she never experienced growing up in her community back home.
“There were people who were really close to me and said small things, like, ‘oh. I can tell you’re a Jew because you’re cheap’” Srour said. “I’m not cheap, I don’t have the same economic status as she does, so I can’t spend as much as she does.”
Sophomore double major in economics and international studies, Abi Schcolnik, the UM Hillel co-president experienced antisemitism back home in Uruguay. Having dealt with the struggles personally, she wants to ensure that all Jewish Canes feel safe on campus.
“We don’t have to wait for something big to happen to start fighting against antisemitism,” Schcolnik said. “We need to start working now towards education and educating these students to not commit these microaggressions.”
Sruor and Schcolnik are hoping to prevent any potential attacks by continuing to provide protection for Jewish students at UM. Currently, there is no Jewish student representative on UM’s DEI committee. Some universities have begun taking steps to address the issue, such as the Jewish Faculty and Staff Council, which has urged Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis to consider including “Jewish individuals on DEI committees.”
“This is why antisemitism education needs to be included in DEI, because on this campus, we are very progressive, which is amazing, but why aren’t Jews included in that? We are still a minority, we still experience hate,” Srour said.
In an attempt to curb hate, UM Hillel is following the University of Florida’s lead and has invited students to partake in “Spread Cream Cheese, Not Hate.” In these events, students sign an agreement saying they will do their part in preventing antisemitism and learning about things Jews have had to cope with, and in return, they get a free bagel. So far, UM Hillel has held two of these events, one on Nov. 1, 2022 and one on Feb.15th, 2023 in the aftermath of “Ye is Right” visiting Florida schools.
“I think that’s the part where we are struggling most–we will say the word ‘antisemitism’ and lots of people don’t know what that means,” Srour said about why the event is so important. “Without the education implemented within the conversation, we are taking away that choice from our students. We are not giving them the opportunity to keep an open mind and learn about other minorities on campus.”