Photo courtesy of hillel.org
ONLINE FIRST BY ADAM ROGAN
On the morning of Feb. 23, Provost Sue Mattison sent out a campus-wide email with the subject “An act of discrimination and hateful speech”. An anti-Semitic slur was carved into one of a wooden seat in Meredith Hall. It’s unclear how long ago the carving was made, but it was reported on Feb. 22, when a Jewish student noticed and reported the vandalism.
“We will not tolerate acts of oppression and hate, and will do everything in our power to deal with this,” Mattison said in her email. “This is not who we are, and is against our values.”
After being notified, the seat was promptly removed by Drake Public Safety.
In response, Drake Hillel, a center for Jewish students, organized a gathering to discuss the act and students’ reactions to it. About three dozen students and community members met on the evening of Feb. 23, packing into the small living room of Hillel House, located on 31st Street.
Although most of those who attended were Jewish, a handful of the attendees mentioned that they had different backgrounds and simply came to listen and offer support.
Throughout the discussion, many of the students said that the timing and proximity of the slur were particularly disturbing. Students shared stories of being directly threatened because of their heritage. Others discussed how they felt offended and minimalized by hearing comments like “Oh, just brush it off,” in regards to the slur.
An increasing number of bomb threats have targeted Jewish community centers in recent months. Several Drake Hillel members said that some of those threats were aimed at centers that they attended back home.
In the ticker below are a selection of quotes from those who participated in the discussion at Hillel. Not only did they discuss their fears and worries, but also their hopes for how their community and the Drake community as a whole can respond to messages of hate.
Words from Hillel House
Students in need of professional help can contact the counseling center at any time at 515-271-3864. For immediate help in an emergency, students can call Drake’s Public Safety at 515-271-2222 or 911.