Last weekend the University of Denver residential community experienced three acts of antisemitic vandalism. We shared with different news outlets how Hillel supports our Jewish students in such challenging times and why is it so important to call out any act of antisemitism. A summary of releases from February 13-16, 2023.
Hillel in the News:
- Our 1 pm press conference February 14, 2023, at DU Hillel included channels 4, 9 and 31: CBS, FOX, and NBC news. Others were invited. Many questions followed.
- CBS channel 4 Rick Sallinger did the best job: https://www.cbsnews.com/colorado/news/university-denver-antisemitic-incidents-residence-halls-mezuzahs-jewish-acts-hate/
- FOX channel 31 and NBC channel 9: no videos. texts below.
- NPR’s Tony Gorman interview
- Steve Mark from the IJN interviewed Daniel for their Friday 2/17 digital edition.
FOX channel 31
DENVER (KDVR) — Hillel of Colorado, located on the University of Denver Campus, held a press conference Tuesday after three students were the target of antisemitism.
“Three mezuzahs were ripped off door posts and thrown into stairwells. One was defaced, the other was attempted to be defaced and we know one student had pork products taped to their door,” Daniel Bennett, Executive Director of Hillel of Colorado said. Bennett said some of the Jewish students were on a retreat up in Winter Park when this happened. They believe it happened sometime between Thursday morning and Saturday morning. “They believe footage exists, but I have been told by others maybe one of the cameras was broken,” Bennett said.
Mezuzahs are commonly hung on doorways containing prayers. The ones in this case were hanging in the doorway of student dorms. Neither DU or Bennett would confirm which dorm the incident happened in. “We want to put these mezuzahs up and show we are proud, and you can’t take down something we are proud of,” Lily Gross, an Alumni of DU and Jewish Student leader with Hillel of Colorado said.
Bennett said it’s estimated that around 10% of the DU student population is Jewish. Other Jewish leaders in the Denver community are speculating on who they believe committed the crimes.
“It is likely those will be students or people who have access into the security halls to take the actions,” said Scott Levin, the Mountain States Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Bennett is asking DU to provide additional security for students. He said the students impacted are doing okay. “I think they find comfort in knowing the university and we are doing everything we can to protect them,” Bennett said.
The DU sent out a statement to all student and staff:
In the past few days, our residential communities have experienced three acts of antisemitic vandalism. As some of you may have heard, early last Thursday, a Johnson-MacFarlane resident’s door was vandalized; and yesterday evening, two residents from the Nagel Hall reported that their doors were vandalized and religious items were removed over the weekend.
The University has provided a range of supports to directly affected students and continues to investigate these incidents. If you have information about any of these incidents, please share it with the Office of Equal Opportunity & Title IX (EOIX) by emailing email@example.com or by filing a report through their online reporting form. You can find more information about the Equal Opportunity office, and relevant policies and procedures at www.du.edu/equalopportunity.
We want to be very clear that these acts are not acceptable within DU’s community, and acknowledge the harm that has been caused to members of our community. Every student, faculty, and staff member deserves a place to live, learn, and work that is respectful, welcoming, and safe. Each of us shares the responsibility to foster that environment through our actions.
We each have commitments to make. Importantly, we call on our community members to be accountable for our community. This means holding oneself and one’s community responsible when harm is caused, seeking ways to prevent harmful acts from occurring in the future, as well as engaging in campus life, including cultural and educational opportunities, to make connections across the DU campus.
As we continue working with all involved, below are some resources to educate, support, and engage our community.
- Individual and group support is available through the Health & Counseling Center (HCC): www.du.edu/health
- Student Outreach & Support: https://studentaffairs.du.edu/student-outreach-support
- Get involved on campus: https://crimsonconnect.du.edu
- Dean of Students office: https://studentaffairs.du.edu/get-connected
Hillel is a Jewish student organization, present at 850 colleges and universities world-wide.
NBC channel 9
DENVER — The University of Denver said Tuesday there have been three acts of antisemitism on campus in the past week including vandalism in residential halls. On Thursday, a resident at Johnson-McFarlane Hall said their door was vandalized. Two people that live in Nagel Hall reported on Monday evening that their doors had been vandalized and that religious items had been removed, DU said.
Three students had their mezuzot torn from their doors, and one student had pork products glued to their door as well, according to an Instagram post from the DU Hillel and Daniel Bennett, executive director of Hillel of Colorado. Placing a mezuzah on doorways is a Jewish tradition in which one puts prayers in the home under directions laid out in the Torah. Pork is considered an unholy food within Judaism.
“We’re writing to share with you a note that was shared with our student body last night regarding a number of antisemitic incidents that have occurred at DU in the last several days. We stand together in deploring these acts and in committing ourselves to promoting a warm, welcoming campus in which all community members can thrive.” The statement was signed by Provost Mary Clark; Jeff Banks, vice chancellor for Human Resources and Inclusive Community, and Chris Whitt, vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The school said anyone with information about the vandalism can email the Office of Equal Opportunity & Title IX at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information can be reported online here.
The school’s full response to the vandalism, along with resources for those who feel victimized about the incidents, can be found here.
There were at least 47 reports of antisemitism in Colorado in 2022, according to ADL Heat Map data. A similar act of mezuzah vandalism happened in Denver in April 2022. The ADL wrote that it got a report of mezuzahs “ripped from the doors of neighboring Jewish households.”
There were eight reports of antisemitic harassment at Colorado schools and Hillels’ in 2022, including one mass shooting threat at the University of Colorado.
“An individual on the University of Colorado campus reportedly asked another individual for the location of a Jewish student organization and said he was going to ‘take an uzi to kill at the Rabbis and Jews,’” according to the ADL data entry.