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USC to combat antisemitism on campus

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(A7) University of Southern California (USC) President Carol Folt has announced new measures to combat antisemitism on campus.

These measures include an Advisory Committee on Jewish Life and Jewish representation in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts.

The measures were unveiled on Thursday in a letter to members of the USC Jewish community which was shared by reporter Aaron Bandler of the Jewish Journal.

“USC has a long history as a campus with a vibrant Jewish community; however, a recent national survey by ADL-Hillel shows a rise in antisemitism across college campuses nationwide. USC is not immune, and we are taking specific new actions to systematically and operationally combat antisemitism on our campuses,” wrote Folt.

The steps to be taken include creating a new Advisory Committee on Jewish Life at USC which will be made up of students, faculty, staff, and community members.

“This Advisory Committee, which will be holding its first meeting later this month, will review a number of proposed actions to tangibly support Jewish and Zionist students, faculty, and staff. These include launching a campus climate survey to gather additional data on religious identification and discrimination within our campus community. Additionally, this committee, along with the Academic Senate, will help us identify a university-wide position that demonstrates our commitment to fighting antisemitism in all its forms. This work will include a review of the numerous statements, definitions, petitions, and declarations the university has been asked to sign, and develop a process for evaluating them,” said Folt.

Another step is “ensuring Jewish representation and inclusion in our university-wide Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts, and supplementing our bias and harassment training protocol for all students, faculty, and staff to include antisemitism,” she continued.

The university will also establish “a clearly articulated, student-focused campus pledge to act in accordance with our community principles and unifying values. This will help encourage civil discourse among our students on our campuses and on social media.”

Recent incidents of antisemitism at USC include an online statement which was highly critical of Israel and officially endorsed by the university’s Department of Gender Studies.

The statement, titled “Gender Studies Departments In Solidarity With Palestinians Feminist Collective,” was signed by the USC Department of Gender Studies and 120 other international faculties in the wake of the May conflict between Israel and Hamas. It claimed “Israeli policies and practices towards Palestinians amount to apartheid” and accused Israel of “settler colonialism” and “right wing, ethnonationalist violence.”

In 2020, a Jewish student leader at USC said she resigned due to harassment over her support for Israel.

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