Alpha Epsilon Pi, or AEPi, Berkeley’s Jewish fraternity, reported an act of antisemitic vandalism at their house last week.
According to a statement from the fraternity, shellfish, a non-kosher food, was scattered on the porch and around the house.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think it affected me that much,” said freshman Miles Griffin. “As a Jew living in America, it’s pretty common.”
Griffin also discussed experiences in their hometown of Los Angeles, where despite there being a significant Jewish population, they witnessed graffitied swastikas. Antisemitic tropes and politicians, they added, are also common.
Further investigation may indicate that the act was not targeted at AEPi, but more than one fraternity experienced similar vandalism, according to campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof.
In an Aug. 31 follow-up statement, AEPi responded to the knowledge that at least one other fraternity was similarly affected by the act. In the statement, they wrote that “ignorance does not excuse antisemitism” and that the incident “contributed to an environment in which Jewish students are concerned for their safety and being discriminated against.”
AEPi added that some of the perpetrators have apologized to chapter leadership.
“Whether that was the message people were intending or not, it does send a message of fear and antisemitism to Jews on campus,” Griffin said.
Beyond this incident, there has been a recent history of antisemitism on campus. In Jan. of last year, the words “No Jew Go Away” were written on the doors of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union building.
These acts also mirror a nationwide trend of recent rises in antisemitic incidents and speech.
As reported by the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks “antisemitic harassment, vandalism and assault,” 2022 saw the highest numbers on record since 1979.
“We should also note that experience suggests that many incidents of bias, discrimination and/or identity-based hatred — including antisemitic incidents and expression — are not reported,” Mogulof wrote in an email.
To address the issue of unreported cases, campus emphasizes educating students about what to report, what is considered offensive or unacceptable and how to report such incidents as a victim or witness.
As of fall 2019, the Antisemitism Education Initiative, or AEI, has existed on campus through the Center for Jewish studies. Working with Berkeley Hillel, the Division of Equity & Inclusion, professors, researchers and more, AEI holds workshops on antisemitism and helps respond to antisemitic incidents with a focus on the campus climate for Jewish students.
To track and monitor antisemitism as well as targeted attacks on other groups, the Office for the Prevention of Harassment & Discrimination on campus keeps a database of complaints, Mogulof noted.
Griffin, who considered the prominent Jewish community on campus when deciding where to go to college, feels assured that the community and Jewish organizations aren’t going anywhere.
Griffin pointed to weekly shabbat dinners, events and a host of Jewish organizations on campus, as evidence to this community.
“We are here, we are here to support each other, we are loud and out and proud more than ever,” Griffin said.