Biden Administration working to support college students amid rise in antisemitic incidents
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - There are concerns about antisemitism since the Hamas attacks on Israel earlier this month, but now, the Biden administration is providing an extra layer of safety for students on college campuses worried about their safety.
Nora Gorenstein, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, told us that keeping students safe, whether of the Jewish faith or not, should be a top priority for all schools across western Massachusetts and that includes worrying about their physical health, mental state, and emotional well-being.
“We’re trying to be responsive, to be aware, and to be supporting students, not just in a reactive way, but in a proactive way to make sure we have the type of structures and support that students will need now and in times like this,” Gorenstein said.
A new wave of antisemitic incidents have been reported across the United States following the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, including targets on some college campuses, which has left Jewish students worried. On Monday, Western Mass News spoke with Gorenstein on where those concerns stand in our area.
“Three out of four Jewish students right now say that the situation in Israel and Gaza is affecting them and for all college students across the board, the number we’re looking at right now is that 56 percent of Jewish students say that they are scared and I would say an acceptable percentage would be zero,” Gorenstein explained.
To combat this recent rise of both antisemitism and Islamophobia, the Biden Administration has asked the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to partner up and work with local law enforcement to provide support for all students. It’s a proactive effort that Gornestein said could go a long way when adding an extra layer of safety on college campuses.
“I know I feel reassured, as a Jewish communal leader that we are being supported by the United States, by other allies around the world, and then particularly, you know locally, by our non-Jewish friends and family and neighbors because that is so important and knowing that we’re not alone is really the number one need in this moment,” Gorenstein added.
An important need that State Senator John Velis said is also crucial when fighting antisemitism.
“Anti-anything, hating fellow human beings just because of who they are, what they look like, their race, their religious creed, their socioeconomic status, don’t we have enough things going on in this world where that shouldn’t be a thing? Why can’t we just say we value all humans, right? It just, it doesn’t make sense to me how ramped antisemitism is and it needs to be pushed back in every opportunity,” Velis said.
Gorenstein also shared that if any student on a college campus across the state experiences an antisemitic incident against them or their community, they should report it by going to campushate.org to submit an official complaint, which goes directly to the Anti-Defamation League.
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