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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Jewish students react to antisemitic vandalism on campus, President Perez responds

After reports of vandalism on campus, Chico State President Steve Perez responded with an email to the campus community
Kimberly Morales
Kendall Hall on Chico State campus. Students for Justice in Palestine will be holding an event for all students to show support for Muslim and Jewish faiths on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Taken on Sept. 2, 2020.

“Let me state unequivocally—this cowardly and vile hatred has absolutely no place at Chico State.”

— Chico State President Steve Perez

Chico State President Steve Perez sent an email to the campus community on Friday condemning recent acts of hate-based, antisemitic vandalism on campus.

In the email, Perez wrote that he was “angry and deeply upset” upon receiving multiple reports of graffiti and vandalism. 

“Reports included antisemitic messages in a bathroom, on light posts, and in stairwells on campus,” Perez said in the email. “Let me state unequivocally—this cowardly and vile hatred has absolutely no place at Chico State.”

The email stated the graffiti was quickly removed and surveillance is being reviewed to apprehend those responsible. 

At 10 a.m Kristy Collins, the executive director of Chico Hillel, attended a meeting with campus administrators when she heard that an anti-zionist sticker was found on a light post. She later received Perez’s email, along with the rest of the campus community.

“The tone of language that President Perez used in the email is something we’ve been waiting for since October 7th, condoning hate incidents,” Collins said. 

On Oct. 7, 2023, Israel was attacked by Hamas leading to the death of over 1,000 Israelis, the majority of them civilians.

“To have that hate in our face, I think that’s why this email resonates with what we’ve been asking,” Collins said. “This is the first time the campus has addressed it in a way that makes us feel safe.”

Collins said Jewish students who wear Star of David symbols or necklaces have had other students say “free Palestine” to them as they walk across campus.

She also said similar statements have been received outside the Hillel office.

“I think that it’s important for people to practice their right of free speech, and I think there is a line with that though, and that line is antisemitism,” said Seth Trachtman, president of Alpha Epsilon Pi, the Jewish fraternity.

He believes people on all sides should be peaceful, and that anti-zionist beliefs turn antisemitic when people express hatred towards Israel as a nation.

“As a Jew, you know, with Israel being my ancestral homeland, it sucks to see that level of hatred towards that country,” Trachtman said.

After Associated Students called for a ceasefire in Gaza in February, Trachtman said that he was concerned because he did not believe the statement mentioned Hamas enough.

“It’s terrible, the war that’s going on. And people need to remember that it’s not Israel versus Palestine, it’s Israel versus Hamas. And Hamas is not the topic of conversation when it should be,” Trachtman said.

Though Chico Hillel is active on social media, Collins and the rest of the Jewish community have been communicating internally to avoid “aggressive responses” during the beginning of Shevat.

Following the vandalism and Perez’s email, SJP posted on Instagram that they will be holding a “joint Shabbat Salat event” at 7:30 p.m., Friday, on Kendall Hall’s lawn.

“Calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and justice for Palestinians is not incompatible with peace and fellowship with those from the Jewish faith,” the Instagram post said.

Another student and member of Chico Hillel, Ruth Amar, was not aware of the SJP event but said that she will likely attend.

“It sounds like a good idea to have this community get-together kind of thing,” Amar said.

Amar is a freshman at Chico State and lives on campus. She was present during the banner demonstration earlier this week.

“It’s upsetting to see this issue dividing the campus and making people feel unsafe,” Amar said. “Nobody should feel like, scared to be on campus on any side”

As a very openly Jewish student, Amar thinks of the Chico State community as a “mixing pot” of different cultures and doesn’t want to see that change.

Amar also recognizes the activism on other campuses, and said she feels grateful that Chico State is not that extreme.

“Personally, I’ve never been faced with face-to-face hatred, and no one has ever expressed any sort of violence directly towards me, but it feels like on campus it’s becoming more and more of a thing where I might feel targeted or I might feel unsafe,” Amar said.

Chico Hillel shares their appreciation for Perez who checked in on Jewish students at a previous meeting and extended kindness and support to them, Collins said.

Grace Stark can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Grace Stark
Grace Stark, News Editor
Grace Stark is a second-year majoring in journalism, news. She is from Loomis, a small town outside of Sacramento. This is her second semester on The Orion and she is excited to pursue her interests in writing and reporting as the news editor. Outside of school, Grace enjoys thrifting, reading, drawing and spending time with friends. She also has a small business online called Rings by Grace where she sells handmade spoon rings.
Kimberly Morales, Reporter
Kim moved away from her hometown, Fullerton, California to Chico to work towards a degree in journalism with an emphasis in the news option at Chico State. In her fourth semester at The Orion, Kim regularly reports topics such as local politics, crime and more. Since joining The Orion, Kim has contributed to Calmatter's college beat during the spring 2020 semester and later joined NPR’s program, Next Generation Radio in collaboration with Capradio to produce an audio story back in the fall 2020 semester. In her spare time, Kim enjoys trying to find the best coffee spot in Chico with her roommate.

Comments (5)

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  • S

    S // May 7, 2024 at 5:15 pm

    What about the Jewish students who don’t support Zionism? Does that also make them anti-Semitic? Does this mean that they’re prejudiced against their own Jewish brothers and sisters? Zionism and religion are completely separate, and being anti-zionist does not mean you are anti-semitic. The article is misleading and misinformed

  • B

    Bill // May 7, 2024 at 2:42 pm

    What did the graffiti say? The article makes it sound that it was just a sticker on a pole being anti zionist? That does not have anything to do with being anti-Semitic. I fully support Israel and their right to exist, but think the bombing of Gaza is a war crime that must stop. The world is grey, not black and white.

  • J

    J Canty // May 6, 2024 at 8:37 pm

    This is an excellent article that states the facts about the the antisemitism and the president’s response. It was unbiased and well written.

  • A

    Ari Sorokin // May 4, 2024 at 11:43 am

    This is why the Jewish community should have struck first. No rally, no vigils, no public displays of support. And now we plan to go to Kumbaya with the Palestinian Islamists who hate Jewish People and America. We are too afraid of inflaming tensions when they hate us regardless. Antisemitism is permanent. Like a monsoon season, we can either cover our heads in the sand or prepare for the storm the month before.

    We need to educate the moderate people. The stupid radical leftists likely cannot be changed.

    Our religion cannot be weak. For two years, we have spent our days in a psychological pale of settlement and still act like Dhimmi in the West.

    This is a failure of Kristy’s agenda.

  • A

    Annie // May 3, 2024 at 6:25 pm

    Zionism isn’t Judaism, and this article conflates anti-Zionism with antisemitism. You didn’t interview Arab/Palestinian students about their experiences with Islamophobia and Zionism at all. I can tell you right now those students HAVE faced racism, bigotry, and violence. This is an unfair, incomplete perspective. Also, you erased the suffering of Palestine by omission, instead prioritizing the Israeli deaths from October 7th- when Israel has been running apartheid and genocide against civilians before, during, and after Oct. 7th. Israel has murdered at least 34,000 Palestinians, injured 77,000+ more, and displaced millions. Free Palestine from Israel.