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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

UF Jewish community, Fuchs react to antisemitic ‘Ye’ Kanye West messages

Campus will have increased police presence

UF campus will have increased police presence this week after members of the UF community discovered multiple antisemitic messages written in chalk on campus in support of Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West.

Students found the messages, some of which read, “Ye is right 2/2/23,” or “Students for Ye,” near The Hub, outside Weimer Hall and in the courtyard between Pugh Hall, Dauer Hall and Farrior Hall. Other messages were found near Flint Hall and Turlington. 

“Ye 24,” and “Ye for president,” other messages read. As of Wednesday afternoon, it’s unclear what the Feb. 2 date is in reference to.

The University Police Department hasn’t returned a request for comment as of Wednesday evening. President Kent Fuchs condemned the messages, which he said indicated a coordinated act in a tweet Wednesday.

“While no security threat has been identified on our campus, the University of Florida Police Department has initiated an investigation into the matter,” Fuchs’ statement read. “Additionally, there will be a visible presence of police officers on campus in the coming days.”

Ye has been widely condemned in recent months for a series of antisemitic and white supremacist tweets and comments, including an interview with Alex Jones where he said he loved Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

These messages come exactly one week after a report that a palm-sized marking of a swastika was found on the seventh floor of the commuter parking lot. The marking was documented and removed by UPD, leading to an investigation into the incident.

UF Hillel released a statement on Instagram stating that it is deeply troubled by the incident. 

“We are working with law enforcement and university leadership to investigate and remove the markings,” the statement read.

UF has the highest number of Jewish students of all public universities in the United States, according to Hillel International.

UF Hillel also referenced its Chomp Hate campaign, which it launched after antisemitic hate speech in support of Ye was displayed at the Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville on Oct. 29.

Rabbi Jonah Zinn, executive director of UF Hillel, launched the initiative to fight racially or religiously motivated attacks across campus, after the Divine Nine Peace Garden, which honors Black fraternities and sororities, was vandalized. 

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The organization has hosted community events since launching the campaign, like a “Spread Cream Cheese Not Hate” campaign with free bagels in Turlington Plaza Jan. 18.  

The University of Alabama reported similar messages on its campus Thursday. The Crimson White, the school’s student-run newspaper, reported almost two dozen messages with the hashtag “YEisRight” on campus sidewalks. Many of the messages included references to Holocaust Remembrance Day, Friday, Jan. 27.

One night before, in celebration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Lubavitch Chabad Jewish Student Center hosted an event with over 300 students and faculty members in attendance. Rabbi Berl Goldman expressed his sorrow over the messages. 

“UF administration was in the crowd, and it was an amazing evening,” Goldman said. “These displays will not dampen our spirits and will not dampen the goal.” 

Hate, bias and bigotry of any kind don’t have a home at UF, Goldman added. 

Joseph Bensabet, president of the Lubavitch Chabad Student Group and UF senior, said while the Jewish community is disappointed, they’re not discouraged. 

“I think that the most important thing to fight this, and to feel safe, to feel at home and to feel confident in our identity of who we are is to stay united and to stay educated,” Bensabet said. 

Contact Ella at ethompson@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @elladeethompson.

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Ella Thompson

Ella Thompson is a third-year journalism major and the Spring 2024 Metro Editor. In her free time, she likes to go to the beach or read a good book. 


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