Dear Illinois Community,

As the fall semester comes to a close, I hope we all will take time to reflect on what we have learned this semester and how we can improve together.

Unfortunately, this past semester has seen hate spread on this campus unlike what has been previously seen. Racism, antisemitism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and cultural ignorance have plagued this campus and our community. Reported incidents of hate crimes have increased from the previous year and abhorrent symbols of hate have been found everywhere from University bathrooms to campus bars. The presence of these is meant to divide us and as students, we must refuse to let that happen. As a collective institution of over 51,000 students, those who seek to oppress others and divide must not bring us down.

Our values are being tested, and we will respond by reaffirming our commitment to inclusion and care for each other, regardless of background.

The epidemic of antisemitism on this campus is horrific. The idea that any individual feels threatened for their expression of personal religious or ethnic identity is unacceptable. Symbols filled with hatred and violence such as swastikas have consistently appeared on this campus and that hate will not be tolerated here. I stand in support with all students affected by these incidents and urge all to not ignore these symbols, but immediately report them so the perpetrators can be brought to justice. You can report acts of intolerance and bias here and hate crimes should be immediately reported to the police.

Due to recent events on campus, it is worth distinguishing that criticism of Israel, similar to criticism of any other country is not antisemitic and should not be labeled as such. The Illinois Student Government recently passed a resolution, ISG.03.29, Condemning Ignorance of Racism and Equating Anti-Zionism with Antisemitism. This resolution highlighted that those on this campus whose beliefs may align with Anti-Zionism at its root, are not being antisemitic in their criticism of Israel. There is however, a line that all must be aware of. There have been multiple times antisemitism and Anti-Zionism have been conflated on this campus and this resolution passed to protect our Pro-Palestinian students from being mislabeled and harassed as antisemitic due to their beliefs.

This University promises an experience that prepares students to live, work, and lead in a multicultural, diverse, and international society. The University needs to live up to their obligations and faculty, staff, administrators, and students must protect all students regardless of status, race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexual orientation. We stand with our Jewish students, our Palestinian students, and all students, so that they do not fear for their safety and their beliefs be protected as our United States Constitution provides for.

The work of creating an inclusive environment is everyone’s responsibility. We are committed to continuing our work with faculty, students, and staff to create a positive climate on this campus that is inclusive of all students.

Have a great Winter Break,

Connor Josellis
Student Body President

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