Holding Antisemites Accountable.

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University of Northern Colorado Investigating Antisemitic Incident Reported Anonymously Online

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University of Northern Colorado officials are investigating a report of antisemitism on campus that appeared in a social media post earlier this month.

The Instagram account Jewish on Campus posted Dec. 15 an anonymous letter from a UNC student.

“Someone left a note on my door that said, ‘Jews created COVID-19 to subvert the white race.’ This note was covered with stickers of various Jewish caricatures. A bag of rat poison was taped to the bag,” the anonymous student wrote.

Tobias Guzmán, chief diversity officer and associate vice president of student affairs for the university, immediately responded.

“A message from UNC: the President (Andy Feinstein) and I are very concerned about this post(.) Just minutes ago we were made aware of this,” he wrote. “Please reach out to us so we can do a proper investigation.”

Guzmán said the individual who reported the incident to the Instagram account has yet to come forward to university officials. They attempted contacting the Jewish on Campus account, but have yet to hear a response. Officials had hoped if not to get more information about the reported incident, to at least have the account’s operators contact the impacted student and let that student know officials want to investigate the matter further.

“We have a lot of empathy that people can feel alone, especially in this kind of trauma or this kind of hate-type act,” he said. “But we just did not have a lot of informations, so at this point, we’re still trying to figure out who that person is.”

Though the student’s anonymous report was frustrating in the sense that it’s difficult to dig deeper in the matter, Guzmán said he understands why the student might be hesitant to come forward.

“When marginalized populations are impacted and … if they have this threatening feeling to it, there’s this feeling of being a target and … of ‘I don’t want to disclose who I am because more action can take place,” he said. “But if we want to eradicate, eliminate and destroy these kinds of behaviors, then obviously we need to take the next step.”

Guzmán said there was an incident earlier this year where a student found a swastika on a bathroom partition. The symbol was immediately covered and removed the following day, when crews had access to the necessary tool. In addition, campus officials placed text next to the location of the swastika making it clear such acts are not tolerated.

“Our goal is to always let the campus know that we denounce these types of actions,” Guzmán said.

The university’s counseling center is an important resource where students can get help working through the trauma, but, Guzmán said, it’s just one tool in the university’s toolbox.

“When you use the counseling center, the stigma is you have to kind of declare you have some kind of issues or challenges you need to work through,” he said. “And ultimately when somebody puts a swastika up or makes a comment like this, it’s not necessarily your problem.”

Guzmán said the university’s Office of Equity and Institutional Compliance fields complaints of race-based or unlawful behavior that may require police intervention and helps investigate those complaints. If a student sees the Instagram post and remembers a similar incident, they can report it to that office, he said. The university also maintains a close relationship with the local synagogue, Guzmán said, so students have someone to talk to.

“This stuff is more than a mosquito bite that’s annoying,” Guzmán said. “It’s the wound that reopens every time. And so there’s a lot of need to really help students or community members during this kind of time.”