Throughout January and early February, nearly 1,000 staff and paraprofessionals from University Housing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are receiving in-depth training on recognizing and responding to antisemitism. The training follows several antisemitic incidents on campus.
Attendees include full-time staff and undergraduate paraprofessionals, such as resident advisors and multicultural advocates. Undergraduate students especially have visible leadership roles on campus and can help amplify the training to thousands more.
The training, written and delivered by JUF Campus Affairs staff Emily White and Emily Briskman, already has been delivered to nearly 1,500 Jewish and non-Jewish individuals in Chicago and across the country.
"Antisemitism is on a steady rise nationally, and is particularly acute on college campuses," Briskman said.
Antisemitic hate messages originate from across the political spectrum. The training incorporates lessons on how to recognize antisemitic speech, from traditional antisemitic tropes to antisemitism related to Israel; explores when criticism of Israel moves from political speech to antisemitism; and concludes with actionable steps everyone can take to mitigate the harmful effects of antisemitism.
"We know all too well that hate targeting the Jewish community never ends there," Briskman said. "This training is about raising awareness of a largely misunderstood topic and one that has dangerous repercussions."
"It is critical that non-Jewish people understand Judaism and the Jewish people in order to fully understand the oppression we face," said White, a social worker by background. "That deeper awareness leads to true allyship and the ability to stop that oppression in its tracks."
This training was the first in a series of anti-bias trainings University Housing will conduct.
Erez Cohen, executive director of the Cohen Center for Jewish Life at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said "This another important step in building a strong and safe Jewish environment at the University of Illinois."