The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

The Student News Site of Westfield High School

Hi's Eye

Universities need to keep students safe amid rising hate crimes

The horrific war between Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas has caused a rise in domestic hate crimes against members of Jewish, Arab and Muslim communities that has spread to universities across the country.

Students have a right to feel safe on their own campuses while expressing their identities, and universities are responsible for ensuring their students’ safety. Unfortunately, universities have lacked in this aspect, and need to make significant improvements in terms of how they deal with hate that has infiltrated their campuses.

At Cornell University, shortly after the war erupted, violent comments were made on an online thread including threats to attack the university’s Jewish students and “shoot up 104West!,” the kosher dining hall.

Additionally, a professor at Cornell referred to an attack in which Hamas terrorists massacred innocent women, men and children as “exhilarating.”

At Harvard University, a joint statement from the “Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups” announced “We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence…The apartheid regime is the only one to blame.”

At Massachusetts Institute of Technology, reports emerged of anti-Israel students blocking Jewish students from attending classes, and the Coalition Against Apartheid, a student-run group, harassed staff for being Jewish.

The same concern for safety extends to Arab and Muslim students and staff as well. At Stanford University, a hit-and-run left an Arab-Muslim student hospitalized after the driver accelerated towards him shouting violent comments. At American University, a racist note was left in the office of a Palestinian professor, which read “Death to all Palestinians.”

The previous examples are just a sampling of the hate crimes and acts of prejudice against members of Jewish, Arab and Muslim communities on college campuses that have occurred since Oct. 7.

Universities must take more concrete action in response to these incidents. It is one thing to peacefully protest and express solidarity for a specific group, but chanting antisemitic or Islamophobic slurs, threatening groups of people or committing acts of violence is a totally different issue and should not be tolerated. Any students or student groups who use the Israel-Hamas War as an excuse to spread their hate must be shut down and condemned by universities. Extremists on both sides have no place on college campuses.

The increase in hate crimes is not confined to college campuses. In Westfield, posters of kidnapped Israeli civilians have been viciously torn down, an act of hate not uncommon throughout the country. Also, acts of antisemitism across the country have increased by 388 percent since the start of the war, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

The most recent hate crime to make headlines was the tragic attack on three Palestinian students who were shot in Burlington, Vermont after speaking a mix of Arabic and English and wearing keffiyehs, scarves that represent Palestinian nationalism.  Two of the men were severely injured.

The rise in hate crimes around our country is devastating and unjustifiable. While many are affected by the Israeli-Hamas war, carrying out acts of violence or taking to social media to express and spread hatred is not the solution to peace.

A step in the right direction is taking the time to understand differing perspectives, not attacking others for holding different opinions or beliefs.

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