University of Illinois creates Jewish council to fight antisemitism | #students | #parents

The University of Illinois has created a new Jewish advisory council in order to combat antisemitism and build an inclusive campus environment for Jewish students at the university, as reported by the student newspaper The Daily Ilini on Monday.

The council was announced by University Chancellor Robert Jones on March 12, and came following complaints from students in relation to antisemitic incidences on campus. 

“This is a step forward, a good step forward, in solving the problem of dealing with antisemitism on campus,” said co-chair of the Council and executive director of Illinois Hillel Erez Cohen to The Daily Illini

“We’ve seen that Jewish students, Jewish faculty and Jewish staff members were not consulted in these situations, and the response was much more general. So, having more involvement in helping solve our community’s problem is really critical,” Cohen added. 

The new advisory council conducted its first meeting on Monday, and is expected to meet at least another four times during the semester. As part of its meetings, the council will meet with Chancellor Jones and Sean Garrick, vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, along with students to hear their personal stories of antisemitism on campus and their views on Jewish life generally. 

The decision to establish a council was modelled after the success of the council at the University of California-Berkeley . 

“We are in some ways following a precedent,” Cohen said. 

“It’s not a common precedent yet, but it’s a good precedent of getting people to meet and talk, and put the things that are troublesome on the table and try to serve the University and the needs of the Jewish population.” Cohen added. 

“Now that the council here is finally established, we’re probably going to bring representatives from their committee to come and speak to us and show us the work that they have done,” Cohen said.

The final report for the council is expected in May. “(It) is not a final document by any shape, way or means, but it’s going to help provide the road map for what is the work we are going to do, and when to expect some initial findings and later findings,” Cohen said.

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