SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Hundreds of students marched across the Syracuse campus on Thursday in support of Palestine, calling for a ceasefire and saying the university is “complicit in genocide.”
Videos of the demonstration circulated social media of people chanting “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which is an antisemitic slogan, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon was one of many local officials to respond to the chant on X.
“We all know what this chant means, McMahon stated. “It is clearly Anti-semitic and this ignorant rhetoric is not acceptable in Onondaga County.”
In a campus-wide email sent Thursday night, Provost Gretchen Ritter and Senior Vice President Allen Groves wrote that the university learned one of the speakers specifically named Jewish organizations, also calling them “complicit” in genocide.
“This kind of reprehensible behavior put a group of our students, based on their identity, at risk of harassment, retaliation and potential violence,” they wrote. “We are investigating the statements and working to identify the speaker.”
Beyond the Salt City, universities are faced with the issue of trying to protect free speech while also keeping students safe.
Two weeks ago, Cornell officials confirmed that a student, Patrick Dai, was charged for making online threats to Jewish students, according to authorities. The news shook the community, but especially junior Mary Benjamin, who went to high school with Dai.
“I know the environment we grew up in, and that type of language was never used around me,” said Benjamin. “It really did show the hatred that can be perpetuated against Jewish students, in particular.”
Benjamin says universities can do more to protect free speech while also keeping students safe.
“Something that is really important is the education on antisemitism and, you know, the Jewish plight throughout time so that people really do see them as the minority group that they truly are,” Benjamin said.