A diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) senator at the University of Southern California’s engineering department, Yasmeen Mashayekh, has come under fire for allegedly celebrating antisemitic attacks and stating she wants to kill Zionists on social media.
According to the department’s website, those selected to be DEI senators “want to promote greater inclusivity … and are vocal advocates against racism and discrimination.” However, alleged screenshots of social media posts from Mashayekh, captured by StopAntisemitism.org, appear to clash with that mission.
“I want to kill every mother—ing Zionist,” an alleged post from Mashayekh said. In another, she appears to be celebrating that “A Jew’s head was set ablaze,” adding “Long live the heroes’ arms.”
The dean of USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering, Yannis Yortsos, reportedly downplayed Mashayekh’s role as a DEI senator after her controversial posts came to light.
“Contrary to social media reports, the student in question is not ‘in charge of diversity equity and inclusion at’ either the Viterbi School or USC,” the dean reportedly said. “Rather, the student is part of a graduate student organization that is self-organized, elects its own members, and does not affect or influence school policies.”
But critics argue Mashayekh’s role is greater than Yortsos claims. “School policies are very much affected and influenced by student gov,” said Emily Schrader, a writer at The Jerusalem Post and an alumna of USC. Schrader pointed to USC’s Policy Governance Committee Charter as evidence.
Schrader said on Nov. 23 that USC had not taken any action against Mashayekh, who appears to have been removed from the engineering department’s list of DEI senators. “What will it take for @USC to act?” Schrader asked on Nov. 23. “Is this the kind of student body, of ‘leaders’ they’re producing now?”
Schrader said she was “disappointed to see the school hasn’t taken decisive action,” in a statement to The National Desk (TND). “This is a student who has made appalling antisemitic and violent statements that directly threaten students on campus,” Schrader continued. “When confronted, she has doubled down and even tried to excuse explicitly antisemitic statements she made. No amount of political frustration justifies racism and antisemitism against Jews. It wouldn’t be okay against Arabs and it isn’t okay against Jews either.”
TND reached out to Mashayekh, but never heard back. TND also reached out to USC’s Viterbi School of Engineering to confirm whether Mashayekh is still in her position as a DEI but did not receive an answer. “We have been tagged in tweets erroneously stating that one of our students has been appointed to be in charge of diversity, equity and inclusion at USC Viterbi,” said Amy Blumenthal, a media relations specialist in USC’s engineering department. “That is false. The individual is a member of a graduate student group that is self-organized, elects its own council members, and does not set the university’s policies. Even though the statements at issue are legally protected, we understand they are disturbing. USC rejects and condemns hatred in all its forms.”