Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

UCF takes action against vandalism

 


Last April, a mezzuzah on a door was destroyed and swastikas were discovered carved into the walls of an off-campus apartment complex where UCF students were living.

On Nov. 15, anti-Semitic stickers were found on a newsstand by Tower Four on campus. The stickers with the Nazi emblem were also found in Lake Claire, Tower Two, across from the CFE Arena, the Recreation and Wellness Center and Nike.

In addition to the stickers, there was a note calling for the boycott of all Israelis products, and fliers were found that stated: “Florida, let’s kick it off! Join your local Nazis, the Atomwaffen division!”

The UCF administration is working hard to find the perpetrators and take appropriate steps.

Speaking on behalf of the UCF Knights for Israel, Shana Medel stated, “We condemn these acts, which were spurred by nothing more than baseless hatred. The UCF Jewish community has always stood strong and united, and it will continue to do so.” Medel is a 21-year-old junior at UCF, the social outreach chair of Knights for Israel, a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow, and chair of Communications at Central Florida Hillel.

Central Florida Hillel’s Executive Director and CEO Aaron Weil sent out a letter on social media to the Hillel Community stating that the Central Florida Hillel staff is working directly with the UCF Police Department, UCF Housing, UCF Student Affairs and the UCF Office of Emergency Management “to share information and coordinate our efforts to ensure both the physical and emotional well being of our students.”

The Anti-Defamation League and Hillel International have offered support, guidance and the best practices from their experience with similar events at other universities.

Belinda Boston, assistant vice president for Community Support in the Office of Student Development and Enrollment Services (SDES) stated that UCF “has a zero tolerance policy regarding incidents or bias or discrimination in any form. SDES is actively working with students to ensure they are safe and secure, and have the support needed.”

In his letter, Weil “strongly discouraged” students from further publicizing any hate speech on social media. “While we understand and appreciate the sense of wanting to do something—to not take this ‘sitting down’—it is important in this particular kind of situation to concentrate our energy on actions that make a difference rather than spread fear.”

Chabad Rabbi Chaim Lipskier told The Algemeiner Daily that any effort to make Jewish students feel unsafe—as the perpetrators of these anti-Semitic actions are trying to do—will “not weaken” UCF Jewish students.

“In fact,” he told The Algemeiner, “their hate-filled actions will only work to strengthen the resolve of the Jewish community that exists here at UCF, and to encourage us at Chabad to bolster our efforts to increase the education and pride amongst our students about our wonderful heritage.”

 

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