CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WICS/WCCU) — The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has reported two incidents in the last week that student organizations are calling anti-Semitic.
The U of I Police Department said they are investigating an incident on Tuesday where someone drew a swastika on a virtual drawing board during a meeting.
Vice Chancellor of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Sean Garrick said police are also investigating an incident where raw eggs were thrown at an Israeli flag outside the home of Jewish students.
"There is still hate in our area and we still need to overcome a lot of ignorance," Erez Cohen said.
Cohen is the Executive Director of Illini Hillel, a Jewish student organization.
He said he was not surprised by the incidents because he has been told anti-Semitism has been a problem fought by the university for decades.
"Hate exists and hate will continue to exist and it's really about how do we respond in a way that people come together against it rather than buy into it," Cohen said.
In a letter sent to students on Thursday, Garrick said both of these incidents are unacceptable.
"That, in my mind, that's a very different thing where someone's home is attacked when they're in it," Garrick said about the eggs thrown at the Israeli flag. "That is a physical threat to one's well-being."
In November 2020, the university shared a statement, committing to continue the fight against anti-Semitism.
Garrick said he is working to make sure that commitment is not just symbolic.
"We're trying to do this proactively," Garrick said. "We're trying to do it in a way that doesn't respond to any one particular action, but asks the question, what do we need to do such that we are an environment where anyone can come here and truly thrive."
In the commitment, the university said it would push to create an advisory council to work with Jewish students to learn more about the issues and address them.
Garrick said the council is expected to be formed within the next couple of weeks.
Cohen believes the council could make a major difference.
"When you see anti-Semitism, you need to call it out immediately and you need to alert people that it's an unacceptable form of hate and it shouldn't exist on this campus or anywhere else in the world," Cohen said.
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