UW-Madison leaders condemn anti-Semitic chalk writings found around campus

MADISON, Wis. — Leaders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are condemning anti-Semitic messages written in chalk at locations around campus on Wednesday.

The messages, according to a statement from Vice Chancellor Lori Reesor and Deputy Vice Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer LaVar Charleston, targeted Jewish student groups and called them racist and genocidal.

“To those Jewish students and others affected, we are sorry for the impact this had on your first day of class at UW. We truly strive to create a campus where every student feels they belong, and this kind of messaging harms that goal and aspiration,” the pair wrote.

While Reesor and Charleston went on to say their job is not to respond to every controversial or offensive incident, Wednesday’s chalkings give them, “a timely opportunity to express our expectations for civil engagement for the campus this fall and as we move forward together.”

In a separate statement, UW’s Hillel Foundation called the messages “discriminatory and antithetical to the University of Wisconsin we know and love.”

“Today’s targeting of student organizations because of their connections to Israel is an attack on the identity of Jewish students,” the statement reads. “No student should be targeted because of their identity. Harassment and targeting of Jewish students and their campus organizations are never acceptable at the UW.”

Greg Steinberger, the group’s president and CEO, told News 3 Now on Friday more needs to be done.

“There needs to be a discussion about what we feel has happened and where this fits in a continuum of antisemitic behavior that’s been ongoing for some time, and really what the questions are,” he said. “An investigation would reveal, were these students? Maybe. Were they not students? And what levers inside the university community, moral levers even about how we treat each other can be discussed?”