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UNF student responsible for recent anti-Semitic material found on campus; JSU and SDS speaks out

Darvin Nelson, Editor-in-Chief

Are neo-Nazis back on campus? Spinnaker reported yesterday that “QR codes leading to anti-Semitic propaganda were found on the doors of several professors within the Social Sciences building.” This terrible find occurred last Monday during Passover, a famous Jewish holiday. One week has passed and the University sent a statement about it yesterday.

The University told Spinnaker that they immediately began an investigation and found that the person responsible is a current UNF student. They also stated that “Due to the federal FERPA law, UNF is prohibited from releasing any additional information.” 

Spinnaker met with President Jules Gerstein of the UNF Jewish Student Union (JSU) and President Monica Martinez of the UNF Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) to discuss the matter. 

They said a professor found one of the offensive QR codes on their door. The professor mentioned it to her class, which included an SDS member who alerted the rest of SDS in a group chat. Gerstein alerted the university on the matter when she was notified. During a UNF Passover event on Zoom, the community discussed the incident and was joined by the UNF Vice President and Chief of Diversity Officer Whitney Meyer who expressed much concern for the situation. 

One of the presidents’ main concerns is why didn’t the university issue a statement to students sooner, as it did for similar matters in the past. 

Meyer mentioned that it might be too traumatizing if UNF releases a statement for students and wasn’t sure how privacy laws would affect the information UNF could release, they said.

“It’s more traumatizing not to put out this information,” said Gerstien.“Anti-Semitic propaganda has been found every year and the university doesn’t do much about it. It takes an emotional toll, advocating for your own community. Our system is racist, our system is anti-Semitic, and they don’t want to deal with it.”

Gerstein also said that if the university alerted students when there was a dead body found on campus, which would be considered more traumatizing, then why couldn’t they alert students about this?

This is not the first time anti-Semitic/ neo-Nazi content has been found on-campus. In the fall of 2019, there were flyers found with hate speech such as “It’s okay to genocide subhumans,” which also showed a link to neo-Nazi material. There was a police report that stated a large swastika had been spray-painted in the Founder’s Hall’s bathroom in late 2019 with the words “F*ck UNF.” In 2017, a  UNF student named Ken Parker, who was the Grand Dragon of the KKK, was banned from campus after posting a photo with an AR-15 and showing his swastika tattoo.

This situation raises larger questions, like “Is this happening at other universities?”

President Martinez reached out to the University of South Florida SDS who said they have also encountered anti-Semitic material, but their university has not done much.

“Universities keep making excuses not to bring Nazis to light,” Martinez said.

Martinez thought that this situation could be a national problem and that there’s a lack of transparency between the administration and its students.

Spinnaker asked Martinez and Gerstien if there is anything the Osprey community can do to help fight against anti-Semitism at UNF. “Not ignoring it,” says Gerstein. “It isolates Jewish people even more.” 

Martinez said that students should be on the lookout for any SDS events where different groups of people work together to help hold the UNF administration accountable.

Again, the person responsible has been identified as a current UNF student, but due to student privacy laws, UNF is not able to give additional information.

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For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].

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