FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Tallahassee, FL -- August 12, 2020) -- StandWithUs commends Florida State University (FSU) President John Thrasher and his administration for taking decisive action to address a growing trend of antisemitism within the FSU campus community. This is a necessary step following a series of student-to-student expressions of anti-Jewish rhetoric that raised serious concerns for Jewish members of the FSU body. These incidents inspired a wave of student and alumni activism against antisemitism at FSU and prompted action in support of those efforts by StandWithUs and a number of our partner organizations.
According to President Thrasher’s statement, issued earlier today, not only have the FSU adminsitration, Student Body Executive Cabinet and the Student Senate embraced the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism (as the State of Florida has done previously), but the administration has now initiated “a task force to review Jewish student life on campus and develop recommendations for Vice President [of Student Affairs Amy] Hecht to consider by Sept. 7, 2020.” The task force will, among other things, conduct a campus survey on Jewish life. This is a welcome development that will give a voice to those most directly impacted by campus antisemitism, sending the clear message that they finally have the ear of the university’s leadership.
Additionally, President Thrasher noted that the Division of Student Affairs “will institute annual training for its staff surrounding Antisemitism, religious discrimination and ways in which to foster a more inclusive campus for our Jewish students and employees.” The administration has likewise ensured that the university calendar has been updated to reflect “all significant religious holidays,” has “reestablished its Jewish Student Union and is creating a Jewish Alumni Association to provide enhanced support and educational resources” for students.
“We applaud President Thrasher and the FSU administration for these crucial steps in supporting Jewish students and for committing to these actions as ‘a top priority,’” said Sara Gold Rafel, Executive Director of StandWithUs Southeast. “We agree with President Thrasher’s position that just as the ‘freedom of speech is of paramount importance on a college campus, so is creating a climate of acceptance and appreciation for the value and richness of the many cultures and ideas’ that make for ‘an excellent academic experience,’” added Carly Gammill, Director of the StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism.
StandWithUs Emerson Fellow at FSU, Lioz Grunberger, also praised the administration’s strong actions: “The statement from President Thrasher was great. It’s wonderful to be able to look at the statements the administration has released in the past, compare it to the one released today, and to see the progress made. The administration has helped the Jewish community substantially, and I am more than excited to start working side by side with the administration, alumni, faculty and my fellow students to protect and amplify the Jewish students and voices on campus. While I wish this problem was addressed sooner so my community and I didn't have to endure so much pain, I am glad we are headed in the right direction.”
We look forward to the implementation of these action items by the FSU administration and their lasting positive impact for all members of the FSU campus community. We are grateful to the local community for its tremendous support and immensely proud of all the Jewish students and allies who have united against antisemitism at FSU. We will continue to work with FSU Hillel, ICC, Hillel International, IAC, Alums for Campus Fairness, and our other partners to empower FSU’s Jewish students to make their voices heard on campus.
About StandWithUs StandWithUs (SWU) is an international, non-profit and non-partisan Israel education organization that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism. Through university fellowships, high school internships, middle school curricula, conferences, materials, social media, educational films and missions to Israel, StandWithUs supports people around the world who want to educate their schools and communities about Israel. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Los Angeles, the organization has chapters and programs on 5 continents, including the U.S., Israel, UK, Canada, South Africa and Brazil. For the last 7 years, SWU has consistently received the highest possible ratings from Charity Navigator (4 stars) and Guidestar (Platinum). www.standwithus.com and www.facebook.com/standwithus and www.twitter.com/standwithus