RHA plans to combat anti-Semitism on campus

Donley: “What happens in the future is not affected by only the action but the inaction of students.”

Following the most recent incident of anti-Semitic vandalism in Gateway Hall on Feb. 29, the Residence Halls Association plans to partner with the Jewish Student Organization and Mizzou Hillel to solve the recurring issue.

“Hitler rules” was found written in purple marker on a flyer in the hall Feb. 29, according to a statement released by the Department of Residential Life. This is the fourth incident of anti-Semitic vandalism in residence halls in a year.

A swastika was drawn in feces in a Gateway Hall bathroom Oct. 24, and Mark Twain Hall was vandalized with images of a swastika and a triangle with the word “heil” on top in April 2015.

“When it happened, there was this moment that I was just very nervous that what happened last semester was going to happen again,” RHA President Billy Donley said. “The way that it ended up was nicer because after this, what we focused on was what it meant to be a community; the mistakes you make and the actions that you take.”

RHA, along with Mizzou Hillel and the Jewish Student Organization, will plan an event in April that is centered around the ideas of community and expression, Donley said. While details of the event have not yet been established, Donley said he is not optimistic that events will make a difference in the community without the support of the student body.

“Even with that event, I feel like the students who go are the ones who are already involved,” Donley said. “What happens in the future is not affected by only the action but the inaction of students.”

RHA Vice President Rachel Thomas said that further actions will be decided after a more in-depth discussion with Jewish student organizations, but some ideas might include having members of Jewish organizations come to the residence halls for discussions.

Donley said that after the events of last semester, MU administration’s way of handling the situation has improved.

“It was a lot easier for Rachel and I to address the situation because almost immediately when it was becoming public information, Rachel and I were one of the first to know,” Donley said.

This was an improvement from last semester, Donley said, when he published a statement on his presidential Twitter account criticizing the Department of Residential Life for not informing him of the Oct. 24 incident sooner.

RHA’s Advocacy Committee is not currently planning any events regarding the incident, but Chairwoman Monica Roselli said that representatives were encouraged to speak to residents of their hall about any concerns.

“A lot of us bring it up at our hall government meetings just because advocacy itself and RHA can’t plan events because we are set in stone a lot of the time in advance,” Roselli said.

In an effort to improve campus following these events, Thomas said students will have to play a larger role in upholding university standards. Thomas and Donley said that they will encourage students to adhere a code of respect, responsibility, discovery and excellence.

“We looked at the four core values of the university and how you learn about them when you first come to school here, but you don’t just learn about them, you need to uphold them,” Thomas said. “That’s what it means to be a Tiger.”

Edited by Waverly Colville | wcolville@themaneater.com

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