Virginia lawmakers consider new bill to combat anti-Semitism on state universities
January 24, 2017
Virginia lawmakers are considering a new bill to help school administrators better combat anti-Semitism on state universities following a string of incidents in the past year.
The bill, known as HB 2261 that was introduced by Delegates Dave A. LaRock and Mark L. Cole, enables Virginia state colleges to possess better tools to target anti-Semitism while not infringing upon students’ First Amendment right to free speech. The bill ensures that authorities consider the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism when deciding whether an activity was motivated by anti-Semitic intent.
“Delegate LaRock has introduced important legislation that can help ensure that all Virginia state university students are provided an equal opportunity to an outstanding Virginia education,” said Kenneth L. Marcus, president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a non-profit organization that works to advance civil and human rights of Jewish people. “I am pleased that Delegate LaRock was careful to draft the bill in a way that protects the freedom of speech of all students and professors.”
The bill comes amid a number of anti-Semitic incidents on public universities across Virginia. In November, anti-Semitic graffiti was found in a residence hall bathroom, while a month prior, Holocaust imagery was discovered on the University of Virginia. Additionally, at Old Dominion University last March, multiple fliers portraying a swastika and Nazi-supporting messages were posted on poles on campus and students at George Mason University were threatened by an anti-Israel activists who promised to “f*** up a Zionist,” while others another disparaged Jews as “Zionist terrorists” and said that “Zionists are so ugly.”
If you are concerned about anti-Semitism on your campus, or if you seek advice about best practices, contact us.