Sasha Westrick started her first semester at Temple with all the excitement you’d expect from a college freshman.
“I thought immersing myself in North Philadelphia would be the best way to learn tolerance and acceptance,” said Westrick, whose mother is originally from Philadelphia.
Instead, she learned a harsh lesson she didn’t expect.
“It just made me feel super uncomfortable,” said the freshman.
Her discomfort came from a text that she says her roommate sent her in September. The text is a screenshot of a Snapchat. In it, Westrick was unknowingly photographed while studying. The caption over her photo says “I hate Jews.”
Westrick, who is Jewish, says the person who created the Snapchat was her roommate.
“It just made me feel so uncomfortable. I just looked at her,” said Westrick who adds that she gave an uncomfortable laugh after not immediately knowing how to respond. Then, she told her mother about the text.
“She sent me the text and I was stunned to say the least,” said Amy Westrick.
Sasha Westrick says the roommate who sent the text is also her teammate on the Temple University rowing team.
“I spoke to someone on the team and they said, ‘well that’s not really anti-Semitism, is it?'”
Sasha Westrick filed a report with Temple police.
Temple tells Action News it has addressed the incident. The university issued this statement:
“Temple University fully condemns antisemitism as well as discrimination against any person or persons based on religion, nationality, race, disability, veteran status, gender, sexual orientation or identity in the strongest possible terms. Harassment and threats are defined in our Student Conduct Code and are not tolerated. We encourage all members of our community to report any discriminatory acts. This includes bias-related intimidation or harassment, and violations of this type may result in enhanced sanctions.
It is imperative that our students, faculty, staff, parents and alumni know that we would never waver in our commitment to address these injustices. Every incident referred to Student Conduct and Community Standards is investigated. Whenever a report is made, the complainant is invited and encouraged to participate in the process to share the impact of the reported misconduct. We fully reviewed and addressed this issue pursuant to our policies.
Though we cannot disclose specific conduct information related to a student because of privacy laws, we can share that the incident has been addressed and appropriate remedies have been applied. The students have been separated, and they no longer share living space and are no longer together in a team setting. Additionally, we have been actively engaged in supporting the impacted students since we became aware of the situation.
While incidents of discrimination and bias persist around the world, Temple is committed to addressing these challenges within our community thoroughly and with considered care and attention. We prioritize fostering a campus climate where all students can live and study without fear, hate and intimidation. The importance of cultural acceptance is underscored by our participation in Hillel Internationals Campus Climate Initiative (CCI) cohort for the 2021-22 academic year.”
Westrick says it took weeks for her rowing coach and the University to move her out of the dorm with the roommate who made the post. Her mother says the move finally happened after she insisted upon it.
Sasha Westrick says a university hearing found the student guilty of sending the anti-Semitic message. She believes the punishment may have been a diversity training course.
Sasha Westrick is now going to another school.
“I don’t feel happy anymore,” she says of her decision to leave the campus.
She doesn’t feel like Temple didn’t do enough to protect her and to punish the student who sent the message.
“I told my coach if we have a zero-tolerance policy against discrimination,” she said, “then why is she still on the team?”
The family is now considering legal action against Temple University.