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Campus Anti-Semitism: Responding to Extremism on Campus

Administrators, faculty, staff and students have an important responsibility to establish and maintain a tone of civility on campus by demanding and enforcing a policy of zero tolerance toward all forms of bigotry. If they send mixed or muddled messages concerning anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred, some will see this as tacit approval and even as license to engage in such behavior.

The following recommendations are offered with the understanding that each case is different and needs to be handled with sensitivity and consideration for the special circumstances involved. ADL staff are available to work with students, faculty, staff and administrators on campuses where acts of hate have occurred or are threatened.

- Extremist Speakers on Campus
- Holocaust-Denial Advertisements
- Vandalism, Graffiti, Intimidation and Harassment
- Making the Campus a Better Place

Extremist Speakers on Campus

  • All members of the campus community should speak out vigorously and unambiguously publicly opposing the choice of an extremist speaker. Criticism is not the equivalent of censorship, but is a basic affirmation of freedom of speech and opinion.
  • University presidents, faculty senates and student government bodies should be encouraged to make a strong public statement denouncing the message of extremist speakers as antithetical to the goals and identity of the institution. Such statements are consistent with principles of academic freedom and are a necessary step in distancing the university from expressions of bigotry.
  • University officials and student governments should be encouraged to help reduce the stress brought about by the appearance of an extremist speaker through sponsoring alternative forums, structured dialogue, prejudice-reduction training, educational programming and other appropriate interventions.
  • Ensure that only duly constituted and recognized groups within the university community may institute a request for a speaker who is to be paid from student or university funds.
  • Work to see that the speech is held in a reasonably secure location. Admission might be limited in most cases to those with valid university ID cards. Speakers should be required to allow questioning in a calm, non-intimidating atmosphere.
  • Campus and local officials should insure that security for the event is entirely under their control. Speakers should not be allowed to place their own private security force inside or outside the auditorium.
  • If there is a simultaneous counterdemonstration, it should be held in a separate location from the speech to reduce the risk of physical confrontation.

Holocaust-Denial Advertisements

  • It is important to be in touch with campus newspaper editors to educate them about the nature of Holocaust denial on a continuing basis. Campus newspaper staffs change from year to year. Outreach is needed well before any Holocaust-denial advertisements are received. Attempted intervention after the fact may be too late.
  • Educate campus editors on the background and agenda of Holocaust deniers such as Bradley Smith, David Irving and Ernst Zundel. Emphasize that campus newspapers are under no legal or moral obligation to accept unsolicited advertising containing false, misleading and defamatory premises. Commercial newspapers generally do not accept such advertising. Despite the claims of Holocaust deniers, this is not a legitimate First Amendment issue.
  • Counter-ads and letters to the editor should expose Holocaust deniers as representatives of the larger hate movement and show how their message, though cleverly packaged, is really one of semicamouflaged anti-Semitism. Responding to the deniers by attempting to prove the historicity of the Holocaust plays into the hands of the deniers, by giving the impression of an ongoing debate on the subject.
  • Appropriate leaders of the academy, such as the university president and the chairman/members of the History Department should be encouraged to take a public stand against the use of the campus newspaper to spread Holocaust denial propaganda.

Vandalism, Graffiti, Intimidation and Harassment

  • Universities must establish legally valid policies on student, faculty and staff conduct that are clear and unambiguous. Such policies should be widely published in student and staff handbooks and other appropriate places, making it clear that vandalism, racist graffiti, intimidation and harassment have no place on campus and will not be tolerated. Violators will be punished.
  • Enforcement of such policies must be strict and prompt. Within appropriate forms of due process, violators must be punished and must be publicly decried.
  • Racist and bigoted graffiti should be promptly removed. Such graffiti should be seen as a special human relations problem distinct from standard maintenance procedures and pre-set maintenance schedules.
  • Posters containing bigoted messages should likewise be considered unauthorized and promptly removed by university officials.

Making the Campus a Better Place

  • Administrators, student leaders and faculty have an ongoing responsibility to speak out on matters that could create or affect tensions on campus. This should be done during pre-crisis as well as crisis situations.
  • Faculty and administrations must establish high-priority long-term human relations and prejudice-reduction programming within the curriculum (where appropriate), in the orientation process, through student services and in university publications.
  • Students, faculty and administrators should be equally concerned and respond equally to instances of bias directed at any group on campus. Distinctions as to the seriousness of the incident and the importance of a response must not be based upon the group identity of the victims.
  • Fraternities and sororities should be held responsible for acts of bigotry committed by their members as part of fraternal and interfraternal events.
  • Jewish student groups should actively seek productive ongoing coalitions with other groups of students. Responses to anti-Semitic events (e.g., extremist speakers, Holocaust-denial ads, etc.) should actively engage non-Jewish members of these coalitions in joint activities. Similarly, Jewish students should respond on behalf of their coalition partners when they are subject to various forms of assault.
  • Encourage alumni, parents and members of the surrounding community to speak out on issues of bigotry on campus. Their voices can have a major positive impact on the decisions of university officials.

Source: Schooled in Hate: Anti-Semitism On Campus, ADL, 1997: Anti-Defamation League (ADL)