Students Train with ADL to Combat Hate

Public shootings and acts of racism are frequently reported in the United States. Over the past year, over 399 mass shootings have occurred, compared with 323 shootings in 2018. Incidents in California and Oklahoma in mid-November are two examples of the many recent shootings. This November, Hillel, the Jewish affinity group on campus, sent a group of students to the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Annual Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate on November 21 to learn about ways to combat racism in day-to-day life.
The Santa Clarita school shooting was one of 45 school shootings that occured during the first 46 weeks of 2019. It took place on November 14 at Saugus High School in California. Before classes started, the 16-year-old shooter, Nathaniel Berhow, shot five people before shooting himself. He killed Dominic Blackwell, a 14-year-old boy, and Gracie Muehlberger, a 16-year-old girl, and injured three other students. Berhow was immediately hospitalized and died a few days after the shooting. The gunman’s motive is unclear, but Paul Delacourt, assistant director of the Los Angeles FBI field office, said “There is no reason to believe the suspect was acting on behalf of any other group or ideology or that there were any co-conspirators.”
On November 16 in Duncan, Oklahoma, three people were shot in a Walmart parking lot, and the gunman shot himself shortly afterwards. This was the third shooting at a Walmart this year. Just two days beforehand, two people were killed in Mississippi by what suspects described as a disgruntled Walmart worker. This past summer, 22 people were killed in a Walmart parking lot in El Paso, Texas. As in the Santa Clarita shooting, the gunman’s motive was unknown. Eliza Ross ’22, said, “I am surprised at the little action that has been taken to prevent school shootings. Their frequency makes them have less and less of an impact on our society.”
During November, over 12 incidents of anti-Semitic and racist graffiti were found on or near the Syracuse University campus in Syracuse, New York. The graffiti ranged from swastikas drawn in the snow to vandalism and racist graffiti found in bathrooms on two floors of the dormitory, Day Hall. Many students at Syracuse began to speak out against the offensive graffiti and hateful symbols under the hashtag #notagainSU. According to The Daily Orange, over 200 students gathered for several days for a sit-in protest at the Barnes Center to make demands including mandatory diversity training for staff and faculty and a reformed curriculum for students.
In response to the rising number of incidents of hate and violence occuring in schools, Hotchkiss sent a group of students to the ADL’s Annual Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate to New York City on November 21. The conference focused on understanding the dynamics and driving causes of anti-Semitism.
The conference featured lectures by notable speakers, including Bari Weiss, an Op-Ed staff editor and writer at The New York Times. Later in the day, the conference’s attendees broke up into smaller groups for additional lectures on topics ranging from coping with anti-Semitism on college campuses to diversity in the Jewish community. Simone Straus ’21, co-head of Hillel and an attendee of the conference, said, “I learned that you need to reach out to other people to successfully fight against hate. Anti-Semitism is not just a problem for one group, it’s a problem for everyone.”
The school hopes to have students attend the next annual ADL conference, “Never is Now,” on November 5, 2020 to learn more about combating anti-Semitism.