A student shares the antisemitism they have faced from fellow students and professors at the University of Glasgow.
I have experienced a number of antisemitic instances as a postgraduate student here at the University of Glasgow. At my first event with a society during Freshers’ Week, a student said to me: "I knew you were Jewish from the moment you walked in because you have what Trump has called ‘sleepy eyes’." At first I was taken aback, given that I didn't know what he meant, but after searching further online I found that the trait originated with the Nazis to identify Jews and their non-Aryan traits. I was shocked that someone would use such a hateful stereotype towards me, but I assumed it was simply due to ignorance and not intentional hate.
Nevertheless, I experienced another instance of antisemitism with a fellow student while discussing the difficulty of the pandemic back home in the United States (New York, to be specific). Given I had told the student of my religion previously, he laughed and said to me: "Oh it was all those really religious Jews in New York, yeah? They [the Orthodox community] wouldn't listen to the rules?" I was very offended and told him that I wouldn't talk negatively about my community and that he should learn more about a group before making such a statement. Still, it was worrying to see a fellow student say such an antisemitic statement so freely.
The last and most recent experience I had was with a faculty member in a course on human rights. Following four weeks of discussion about the history of human rights and no discussion of what happened during the Second World War (pre-Universal Declaration of Human Rights), I privately contacted the professor asking why we didn’t learn about the Holocaust in class. After numerous emails back and forth (which contained my own choice of scholarly articles about the impact of the Holocaust), my professor told me that I would need to provide her with more “convincing historical evidence of confluence of the Holocaust and HR [human rights] in the 1940s." This interaction baffled me: I was shocked that a professor would make such a statement in a class focused on perspectives. I had never seen such bias in education prior to my current postgraduate degree.
While it is my professor's choice to believe whether or not the Holocaust had an impact on human rights, I’m disappointed by the response I received. It lacked compassion for a subject that many students may find sensitive in a university class, in particular those whose families have been affected by the Holocaust. This situation makes me question if there be prejudice at hand if I continue my studies of the Holocaust for my dissertation. If I voice my opinion in class, or even campus with others, is there an associated bias given my Jewish religion?
I hope I am able to answer my own questions after finishing my degree next year with the simple answer of “no, you are able to be Jewish proudly without harm inflicted". Yet, in the end, I believe that it is not only up to people like myself to educate others on what antisemitism is and why it is highly offensive, but also up to the University to take action and prevent such measures from taking place in this time and age.
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