Listen to this article

URBANA — A month after Jewish groups went public with complaints of anti-Semitism at the University of Illinois, administrators and those groups issued a joint statement Monday condemning such acts.

They also agreed to create an advisory council to address the issues and to add educational programming on anti-Semitism.

But there’s no sign that the Jewish groups are withdrawing the complaint, which is now the subject of a possible discrimination investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

“We’ve been working collaboratively on this joint statement for weeks,” UI spokeswoman Robin Kaler said. “We received notification of the investigation from DOE late Friday. The statement is independent from any DOE process.”

The complaint was originally filed in March by two students, who accused administrators of not doing enough to address anti-Semitism on campus.

They cited examples in recent years of swastikas drawn on or near campus, vandalism to the menorah at the Chabad Center, opposition from the Students for Justice in Palestine student group, a resolution passed by the Illinois Student Government tying the “destruction of Palestinian lands” with divesting from the police and a presentation to residence-hall advisers about “Palestinian Resistance to 70 Years of Israeli Terror.”

It was publicized last month by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, which was one of the groups that issued the joint statement that was sent in a mass email to the entire campus.

The statement was also joined by the Jewish United Fund Chicago, Illini Hillel, Hillel International, Illini Chabad and Arnold & Porter, the law firm that represented the students who filed the complaint.

“Anti-Semitism, anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at this university,” the joint statement said.

It also said that the steps announced Monday “alone will not effectively dispel the environment that many Jewish students have felt to be unwelcoming. Thus, our collective and collaborative efforts will not end with these actions.”

Alyza Lewin, the president of the Brandeis Center, agreed that more still needs to be done.

“This is a first step,” she said. “There’s a long ways to go.”

But she said that in conversations with the administration, “they definitely understand the seriousness of the issue.”

Lewin was pleased that the statement said that “For many Jewish students, Zionism is an integral part of their identity and their ethnic and ancestral heritage.”

But at Monday’s UI academic Senate meeting, Professor Bruce Rosenstock took issue with this line.

“While this is true, it is also true that for many Jewish students and many Jews around the world, Zionism is not an integral part of their identity,” he said. “I hope that your advisory council includes both groups.”

Chancellor Robert Jones said he understood that not all Jews identify with Zionism.

“Of course, any strategy going forward has to be balanced. It has to be inclusive,” he said. “That is something that I’m absolutely going to insist upon.”

Trending Videos