‘It’s not if we will see it on college campuses; it’s when’: A national rise in antisemitism impacts FAU’s campus

A 193% increase in antisemitism over the last decade causes anger and fear among FAU students.


Eston Parker III

Photo by Eston Parker III.

Savannah Peifer, Social Media Manager

Antisemitism in the United States has risen in the last decade, according to a national study by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). Its impacts have angered Jewish students at Florida Atlantic University and caused some indefinite changes to one of the university’s student media outlets. 

Advocates have argued Kanye West’s recent statements are harmful and dangerous for the Jewish community. They have been deemed a symptom of a much larger issue — a rise in hostility to Jewish people both in Florida and nationally.

National and State Increase

The study reports that 56.1% of all religious-based hate crimes between 2019 and 2021 were towards Jewish people. The increase of incidents on college campuses was 21%, and on Jewish campuses, 61%.

Lonny Wilk, deputy director of ADL’s Florida chapter, believes West’s comments are at the fault of generational values and lack of education.

“Hate travels from generation to generation, so we know we need to make sure that children and students are exposed to messages of unity that push back against bigotry, and we know we need to do the same for parents and grandparents,” said Wilk. 

ADL’s Florida chapter also reported a large increase in antisemitic crimes. 56.1% of all religious-based hate crimes were committed against Jewish people and in Florida crimes have more than doubled since 2019, 80% of those against Jewish people. 

In 2021, Florida had 190 antisemitic hate crimes, only second to California’s 367.

FAU Impact 

The national and state rise in antisemitism has brought about difficult emotions to FAU students.

“Personally, I get really angry,” said Mia Evans, president of FAU’s Hillel Chapter. “Kanye West has more followers on Twitter than there are Jews in the world. So the things that he says are detrimental to Jewish people.” 

Adam Kolett, executive director of the chapter, believes it is normal for students to feel fear as well as anger.

“I think that when Jewish students or people see that the same things are being said about Jews that have been said thousands of years ago, it’s pretty scary to realize that people still can feel this way,” said Kolett. 

Daniel Levin, a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, FAU’s chapter of a historically Jewish fraternity, believes high-profile individuals engaging in antisemitism fosters those beliefs in college communities. However, he believes this problem has not affected FAU greatly. 

“I think because a lot of celebrities get away with saying a lot of antisemitic comments, that creates a large community of antisemitic people on campus and just creates a bigger following,” Levin said. “But I believe FAU does a good job of handling antisemitism.” 

Ariana Hoblin, president and founder of the university’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel, disagrees with Levin’s statement. She argues the rise of antisemitism on campus is inevitable. 

“It’s not if we will see it on college campuses; it’s when we will see it on college campuses, and unfortunately, going into FAU, I thought I would be safe as a Jewish student,” Hoblin said. “But, as I’m spending more time at FAU, and being a Jewish student on campus, I see the definite rise of antisemitism and the rise of ignorance from the administration.”

Owl Radio, FAU’s student-run radio station, removed West’s music from all of their playlists earlier this month. The radio station streams music on their website and plays music over speakers in the Breezeway. 

“I believe it was important to remove his music as we do not want to show any support to any artist who holds antisemitic views and attacks a group of people with hate and lies,” said Station Manager Luke Campese. “I would like to make it known that I, alongside Owl Radio’s staff, stand with the Jewish people and all of my Jewish brothers and sisters are welcome here and their voices are heard.”

Fighting Antisemitism

Evans and Kolett encourage students dealing with antisemitism to reach out to Hillel and rely on the resource guide they provide. 

“I think that it’s important for people to be aware of what’s going on but not scared of what’s going on,” said Kolett.

The ADL agrees the key to stopping antisemitism lies in education. 

“Education can build allies. It’s not only educating perpetrators, it’s not only educating the Jewish community about how to stand up against bigotry,” Wilk said. “It’s educating everyone, so that the message is learned from an early age that bigotry towards any of us is bigotry towards all of us.”

The ADL advocates for the expansion of hate crime laws because they believe federal laws do not protect all vulnerable communities, and the discrepancies between states are problematic. 

Wilk encourages students and student organizations to reach out to their state and local officials and speak out against antisemitism, regardless of religious affiliation. 

“Silence in the face of hate is most problematic,” he said. “Bigotry tends to thrive when it’s not challenged.”

If you or someone you know experiences antisemitism, you can report the incident to Stop AntiSemitism or call 877-411-HATE.

Savannah Peifer is the social media manager for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @ginger.savvy