“Ye is Right” chalkings appear on campus ahead of Holocaust Remembrance Day

CW News Staff


Editor’s Note (1/26/2023): This story has been updated to include a statement from Chabad and more information about Ye.

Almost two dozen chalk messages with the hashtag “YEisRight” were visible on campus sidewalks Thursday morning, with many including references to Friday, Jan. 27, which is Holocaust Remembrance Day.  

Ye, or Kanye West, is a famous rapper and fashion designer who in recent months has taken up antisemitic stances, including Holocaust denial, that have gotten him deplatformed from pre- and post-Elon Musk Twitter and Instagram.

The Crimson White photographed at least 20 instances of the hashtag on campus sidewalks, with some being partially washed away by water. A Twitter account with the handle @YEisRIGHT2024 posted photos of the chalked messages around midnight on Jan. 25, with the caption “Spotted in Bama! ROLL TIDE!”

One of the chalked messages photographed by The CW referenced “America First.” A student organization “Students for America First” was disbanded in 2018 following controversy over a white-supremacist speaker it invited to campus. There is currently no available evidence that the group has reorganized, and The CW was not immediately able to confirm who was responsible for the chalkings.  

The messages were found near a variety of locations, including, but not limited to, The Quad, Ten Hoor Hall, Gorgas Library, Bidgood Hall, Shelby Quad, and Carmichael Hall. 

Shane Dorrill, assistant director of communications, said “the University was notified this morning about anonymous chalkings with concerning language targeting our Jewish community.” 

As soon as the University was notified about the chalked messages, they began removing them. The University has initiated an investigation into the chalkings and has organized resources for those impacted and concerned, said Dorrill. 

Dorrill said “Public Safety and the Offices of Student Life and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are fully engaged and providing related support.” 

Lisa Raymon Besnoy, the executive director of Bloom Hillel at UA, a Jewish organization on campus, said that the organization “condemns hatred of any kind.” 

“It is unfortunate that this incident occurred on our campus, where things like this rarely happen,” Besnoy said. “We are diligently addressing the situation and are currently working with local and federal agencies as well as the SCN Director of Security through the Birmingham Jewish Federation. … We appreciate the support we have received to combat anti-semitism on campus and will provide updates when available.” 

Besnoy said the University is providing “additional supports and security measures to keep our students and members of our campus and Tuscaloosa community safe.” 

The same message appeared on the campus of Florida Atlantic University earlier this week. Tweets from StopAntisemitism identified Dalton Clodfelter, an antisemitic live streamer, as the one responsible. 

The chalkings come at a time of heightened antisemitism in the U.S. The Anti-Defamation League, which tracks antisemitic incidents, reported 566 incidents during 2022, a 42.2% increase from 2021. 

The Chabad at The University of Alabama provided the following statement in response to the events.

“The Chabad at Alabama community and leadership are disgusted by the hateful display we saw on campus this week. We appreciate the university’s Administration looking into this matter and look forward to their response.

Let us be clear: Kanye was wrong. When he praised the Nazi Leaders he was wrong. When he made threats against the Jewish community he was wrong. When he denied Jewish history he was wrong.

These hateful words coinciding with Holocaust remembrance day is no coincidence, and cannot be ignored.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson … often spoke of the need to combat words of darkness and division with acts of unity and light.

Our Community’s response will be two-fold.

This Friday, we invite all Jewish students to join us for a Unity Shabbos. The holocaust was an attempt to destroy the Jewish community and our traditions. They failed. Friday night we wil join together to eat the traditional foods and sing songs that our people have celebrated with for generations, and continue to do so today.

For those who cannot attend, Chabad is providing Shabbat candles, to give an opportunity for a literal act of light, to share the spirit of shabbos with the world. Jewish women kept this holy and symbolic act for over 3000 years, and we invite students to ensure that light continues.

We call on all campus leaders to denounce these words of hate and to increase in acts of unity and light.

If any students were troubled by these actions on our campus, Chabad’s door is open.

In the face of darkness, we will continue to be a light.”

This article was written and reported on by Ainsley Platt, News Editor; Maven Navarro, Staff Reporter; Raelee Sents, Staff Reporter; and Sarah Clifton, Staff Reporter