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‘Hopefully there isn’t a next time’: Senate addresses anti-Semitic vandalism amid criticism

Photo by Adam Rogan


Jewish students at Drake are “terrified.” The university is responding to yet another hate crime, the first directed at Jews. First-year Samantha Bayne, who is Jewish, says she felt senate wasn’t standing in solidarity with her community last week, after anti-Semitic vandalism was discovered on campus.

“…This is something that’s impacting real students and today I felt like there wasn’t that much solidarity shown,” Bayne said. “Especially today when I went to Hillel and I know there were other conflicts, obviously there were many conflicts, but the only two senators were Senator (Jackie) Heymann and Senator (Russell) White and no one from (the three executive positions on senate) was there, and that was really hard.”

Heymann, who is also Jewish, spoke at senate’s meeting, providing further context and campus reactions to the anti-Semitic vandalism.

“First off, there (were) several students, Hillel students, that came (to the house) today and said people were coming up to them and saying ‘Why is Drake making such a big deal out of this,’ stuff like that,” Heymann said. “One, that it was an awful thing that was written and hurt a lot of members of the community, but also explaining that there is a greater national context right now…(a) greater national trend where anti-Semitism is really, really on the rise…”

A campus-wide email was sent out last Thursday morning from Provost Sue Mattison, alerting students to the vandalism. In response, Drake’s Jewish community and its allies met at the Hillel house to express their feelings about the vandalism. They also came together with steps to move forward from the incident.

The perceived lack of support from members of the executive seats on senate, according to Bayne, “…meant to me that Drake wasn’t showing support.”

Student Body President Thalia Anguiano conveyed concerns that senators around the table apparently had communicated amongst each other throughout the day Thursday that they were critical of the amount of time it took for Student Senate to release an official statement.

“If you have an issue or any concerns with the timeline of when I actually post these things on social media, come talk to me instead of talking amongst each other,” Anguiano said.

“We have to keep in mind that I’m also a student and I’m also a person that has needs and that needs self-care,” Anguiano continued, rebuking these concerns. “I’ve been away for seven days, and I have work that I need to get done and I need sleep. So as far as sending me messages and as far as being concerned that I wouldn’t speak out on an issue like this is bothersome.”

Anguiano said she felt she had built up credibility for not “staying silent” on issues such as this instance of anti-Semitism on campus.

“Honestly, I feel disrespected that people felt that I wouldn’t be sending out a statement because I didn’t do it earlier in the morning … quite honestly, I would hope that people have more trust in me in not staying silent on an issue that is so important, especially with the political and social climate going on right now around the nation,” Anguiano said.

Bayne, in addition to criticizing the overall response to the vandalism, granted senate several suggestions on how to move forward.

“Action is way more important than talk,” Bayne said. “What I really needed to hear was not like a vague statement about how we need to do better, but something that reinforces that actions have consequences.”

Bayne suggested creating a senate ad hoc group on hate crime, taking another look at what Drake’s hate crime policies are and creating diversity training during welcome weekend alongside Mentors in Violence Prevention.

“Hopefully there isn’t a next time, but with everything going on, who the hell knows?” Anguiano said.

If students want to voice their concerns to senators, they meet at 9 p.m. in the fishbowl (room 201) of Cowles Library every Thursday.

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