Responding to Campus Anti-Semitism
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 towards 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.
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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 Zündel. 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.
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.
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
- 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.
Next: ADL On Campus