December 1, 2022
M. Katherine Banks
President, Texas A&M University
BG Joe E. Ramirez, Jr.
Vice President For Student Affairs
Annie S. McGowan
Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity
Director of Student Activities, Fraternity & Sorority Life, Student Organizations
Dear President Banks, Vice President Ramirez, Vice President McGowan, and Mr. Brown,
We write as students at Texas A&M and on behalf of StandWithUs, an international, non-profit education organization supporting Israel and combating antisemitism. The purpose of our letter is to inform you of a troubling antisemitic incident by Texas A&M students on a Texas A&M University “Story” group on the social media platform Snapchat. We believe this incident requires your investigation and public condemnation.
The Snapchat Story “Texas A&M University 2026” is comprised exclusively of Texas A&M students and requires a Texas A&M University email account to gain access. On November 8, 2022, certain students in this Snapchat Story posted antisemitic vitriol about Jews. These posts included crass references to the Holocaust, defense of those who perpetrated the Holocaust, and a post, “we should’ve let the ‘ant exterminator’ do his job back in WW2,”—a reference to Hitler and his attempt to annihilate all Jews (see Exhibit A). These posts promote antisemitism through Holocaust distortion and glorifying the killing of Jews. This in turn creates a toxic and threatening atmosphere for Jews on campus.
While we note that the Snapchat Story is not run by the university administration, because the group is exclusively available to current Texas A&M University students, it is therefore part of the university's ecosystem of student offerings. The platform is only accessible through using an official Texas A&M student email address, a service provided to the student body by your administration with a certain set of terms and conditions, and thus directly impacting campus climate. It is merely a digital extension of the campus environment the university creates and supervises. Therefore, we believe it appropriate and necessary to apply campus rules here.
Specifically, Texas A&M University Student Rule 31.1says that the right to free speech is “not absolute” and that “threatening or harassing speech that is communicated via ‘common carriers,’ including telephones and the internet” is not protected. These Snapchat posts call for the annihilation of Jews and were communicated through a common carrier on the internet—the Texas A&M University 2026 Snapchat Story. Therefore, we do not believe these posts are protected by the First Amendment and instead contravene Student Rule 31.1.
Furthermore, Student Conduct Code Rule 24.3 states, “Jurisdiction of the Student Conduct Code shall apply to conduct that occurs on University premises and/or at University sponsored activities or any other activity that adversely affects the University community and/or the pursuit of its objectives (mission).” The Snapchat Story is comprised exclusively of Texas A&M University community members, and the antisemitic posts have directly and adversely affected the Jewish members of the community. As such, the Texas A&M Student Conduct Code applies to the conduct within this Snapchat Story.
Moreover, these posts enable a campus environment of hate, targeting a subset of your students because of their Jewish identity. This is contrary to Student Rule 45, “Texas A&M University is committed to providing a safe and non-discriminatory learning, living and working environment for all members of the University community.” This is a forum with hostile and violent speech towards Jewish students. If these incidents are not addressed, this Snapchat Story and the larger campus space will continue to be an environment where Jewish students feel afraid and unable to learn freely and safely. Worse, it could ultimately lead to physical violence.
We recognize and appreciate the campus environment as a place for diverging viewpoints and discourse. However, these posts do not fall under the category of robust academic discussion. Rather, they are a source of antisemitism, ostracization, and violent language. We are concerned that if you remain silent about these posts, your administration sends a message that it is permissible to threaten and marginalize Texas A&M University’s Jewish students. We ask that you address this matter by issuing a statement of public condemnation, identifying the posts as antisemitic, and outlining when such rhetoric crosses the line into harassing or threatening language that violates student policy. Doing so provides a critical opportunity and teachable moment for your administration to show leadership, provide moral clarity, and convey to your entire campus that antisemitism has no place at Texas A&M.
We are available to provide resources and partner with you on this. Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter. Given the urgency of this matter, we look forward to your response by December 15, 2022.
-[Redacted], Texas A&M, Class of [Redacted]
-[Redacted], Texas A&M, Class of [Redacted] -[Redacted], Texas A&M, Class of [Redacted]
-[Redacted], Texas A&M, Class of [Redacted]
CEO & Co Founder,
StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department
Center For Combating Antisemitism