‘Terrifying for Jewish students on campus’: How students are processing Jan. 26 chalkings

Raelee Sents and Sarah Clifton

University of Alabama students and campus organizations criticized the University’s response to antisemitic messages found on campus sidewalks Thursday, while others released statements of support for the Jewish community. 

Almost two dozen chalk messages were found by The Crimson White with the hashtag “YEisRight” were found campus wide Thursday morning, Jan. 26.  The same message appeared on Florida Atlantic University’s campus in the same week. The University of Alabama began to remove the chalk messages after being notified. The CW is unable to confirm who wrote the chalk messages. 

The University first released a statement on Twitter in a reply to a tweet @StopAntisemites wrote depicting a chalking outside of Amelia Gayle Gorgas library. The University released the same statement via an Instagram story post. Instagram stories remain visible on an accounts story-feed 24 hours before disappearing. No permanent statement was made on the University’s Instagram page.  

“We condemn these chalkings, which violate our Capstone Creed, our campus culture and our core values,” the statement read. 

The University did not send an official UA email communication on the day of the incident or afterwards. 

Tori Stincer, a junior majoring in news media, said the University needs to prioritize better communication.  

“There needs to be direct communications with students through a channel of communication we all have, like Crimson email,” Stincer said. 

“I think [the University’s response] was unprofessional,” said Savannah Prescott, a freshman majoring in math and secondary math education. “Addressing it in a way that will disappear feels like they don’t want to draw more attention to it.” 

The Student Government Association released a statement on Instagram on Friday, Jan 27, saying that “the antisemitic actions committed on campus yesterday are nothing less than abhorrent.”  

SGA also encouraged the student body to continue to uphold the Capstone Creed. 

The SGA ended the statement with “Hate doesn’t roll here.” On the post, there were also resources to connect students to the UA Counseling Center, UA Diversity Incident Reporting, Bama Hillel, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the Office of Student Life. 

The University’s Capstone Creed is “a statement of principles that guide each student.” Every incoming freshman class pledges to uphold the Capstone Creed at the start of each academic year. The Capstone Creed was written knowing that “the University community does not at the geographic boundaries of campus.” 

Some of the chalk notes had “Friday 1/27” written under #YEisRight. Jan 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

Marlie Thompson, a sophomore majoring in interdisciplinary studies, said the date reference was concerning. 

 “The fact that there was a date included and that date being Holocaust Remembrance Day, is terrifying for the Jewish students on campus,” she said.  

Thompson said the University needs to take antisemitism complaints very seriously before a devastating hate crime occurs. 

In response to the antisemitic chalkings, the University’s Chabad, a Jewish organization on campus, tabled outside of Gorgas library on Jan 26. Chabad did not have a permit to table, but the University supported the group’s efforts. 

“Some people from the University came by the Chabad table and said ‘You know what, you’re exercising your First Amendment rights, we support it’” said Alex Malkin, a junior majoring in public relations and member of the Chabad executive board. 

Malkin said Chabad set up the table quickly on Jan 26. Malkin said random students came up to the Chabad table and were expressing their support. 

“Random kids coming up to [the Chabad table] saying things like, ‘Hey, I’ve spent all morning dumping my water bottle on graffiti,’ has been so supportive,” Malkin said. “It’s blowing my mind.”   

Bama Hillel, another Jewish campus organization, also released a statement on Instagram. In their statement, Hillel said they 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.”  

Hillel also noted that the University is providing additional support and security measures to students and members. 

The University’s chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity at the University , released a statement on their Instagram as well.  

“The Brothers of the Iota Deuteron chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi strongly condemn the recent rise in antisemitism taking place in our world,” the statement read. 

Other campus groups, like Alabama Queer Student Association also made an Instagram post in response to the chalkings. 

“The queer student association stands in support of the Jewish community against the hateful, antisemitic attacks found across campus,” QSA said. In the statement, QSA extended regards to those effected on campus and members of the Jewish community. 

If you or someone you know is looking for support, please reach out to the organizations below: 

UA Counseling Center: https://counseling.sa.ua.edu/ 205-348-3863 

Crisis text line: text BAMA to 741-741. This line will connect you to a trained professional, and is 24/7, confidential, and free. 

UA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Incident Reporting: https://diversity.ua.edu/incident-reporting/  

Bama Hillel: http://hillel.ua.edu/  

UAPD: (205) 348-5454. You can also be connected to the 24/7 on-call counselor through UAPD. 

Discrimination reporting channel: https://uact.ua.edu