Student responsible for on-campus anti-Semitic QR codes speaks out at UNF DDI event

Hayley Simonson and Darvin Nelson

This past Wednesday, UNF’S Interfaith Center hosted a “Coffee and Conversation” following the anti-Semitic incident that occurred on Passover weekend. The event was a zoom discussion that welcomed anyone who wanted to share their stories, experiences, and concerns about how anti-Semitic incidents have been handled. Students and faculty were welcomed to discuss how the school’s Jewish population felt about the incident.

The incident, that took place nearly two weeks ago, involved multiple QR codes pasted on Jewish professors’ doors that led to anti-Semitic and white supremacist material. 

Courtesy of the UNF Interfaith Center.

According to an article by the Florida Times-Union, at one point during the conversation, a man who identified himself as the person who put up the QR codes spoke up. 

29-year-old Benjamin Gardner attended the event and said “It’s interesting to hear the Jewish perspective.” He went on to say that he put up the QR stickers because he was “tired of hearing that being white is bad,” according to the Florida Times-Union. In the meeting, Gardner added that he plans on leaving the university. 

According to the Florida Times-Union, students in attendance who were both Jewish and non-Jewish were frustrated with his appearance and added that his actions during Passover made them feel unsafe and that he, as a straight white man, has no right to talk about feeling oppressed when white supremacy threatens student and faculty safety.

The official University of North Florida Instagram page posted about the incident on April 6. Here’s what some of the comments say:

“The person responsible should be expelled! Putting anti-Semitic material on the doors of professors during an important holiday is disgusting!”

“Y’all better not pull a Ken Parker on us again and actually expel the student.”

“Hasn’t this happened before on the UNF campus? The inclusivity statements are nice but total B.S. without the follow-through.”

“Remember when you guys let a KKK grand wizard continue to take classes at UNF even though a ton of people protested it because I sure do.”

Users also commented on Spinnaker’s Instagram page:

“UNF should not give this man the opportunity to leave the University. He needs to be removed and suspended. I’m so sorry to those students and professors who were personally victimized by his actions. Ospreys should know better and do better.”

“He needs to be EXPELLED. Nazis are far too comfortable at UNF and the administration needs to make a clear stance that this behavior is unacceptable and unwanted here.”

Spinnaker is reaching out to the involved parties for more in-depth coverage.


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