Duke Student Government senators attended an antisemitism training presentation held by Director for Jewish Life Joyce Gordon and Campus Rabbi Elana Friedman during their Wednesday evening meeting.
“This is about antisemitism, a big topic, not about any particular position of the student government at any time,” Gordon said, referring to DSG upholding the veto of Duke Students Supporting Israel on Nov. 18.
The presenters opened with an introduction to antisemitism as a scaffold, with levels progressing from anti-Jewish prejudice to violence against the Jewish community.
“If you take the violence away, you still have the full scaffold of antisemitic stereotypes and behavior that is very harmful—not just to the Jewish community, but I would argue to all of us in society,” Gordon said.
Gordon and Friedman then showed two videos detailing the history of antisemitism before asking the senators to reflect on how they were socialized to both accept and challenge antisemitic stereotypes.
“It’s so important to challenge [antisemitism] in its various forms, especially in its backhanded compliments—like Jews being simultaneously greedy and cheap and taking all the money; all of these other tropes and stereotypes that are so popular today,” sophomore senator Nicole Rosenzweig said, reflecting on her experiences with antisemitism.
After a discussion about the links between antisemitism and white supremacy, Friedman and Gordon played a final video about antisemitism on college campuses.
Referring to the American Jewish Committee statistic that half of all Americans do not know the definition of or have never heard the term “antisemitism,” Gordon remarked on the importance of college students combatting antisemitism.
“While the Jewish community is well aware, for the most part, and feels that antisemitism that affects them is on the rise [and] they don't feel safe, many Americans have no clue. And this is the environment that students today are living in,” Gordon said.
Gordon and Friedman concluded with a discussion of ways student leaders can actively combat antisemitism by listening to and sharing Jewish narratives, calling out antisemitism and learning how to report incidents of antisemitism.
“The fact that, at Duke University, people were open to learn about antisemitism–student leadership was open to learning biases of antisemitism–[we are] miles ahead of what other campuses are experiencing, and so we are very grateful. And that's an action that DSG has already taken,” Friedman said.
In other business
Senators chartered Duke Deewana, an organization that seeks to foster Duke’s South Asian and Western music scene through acapella.
DSG also allocated $4,500 for the Black Student Alliance’s BSAI Invitational Ball and $3,214 for TedxDuke’s 2022 conference.
Senators transferred $12,000 from the DSG general fund code to the new Admissions Invitationals fund code. These funds will be housed in the Center for Multicultural Affairs and used to host admissions invitational events for prospective students.
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Audrey Wang is a Trinity sophomore and a university news editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.