STORRS, Conn. (WTNH) — Some students at the University of Connecticut said they have experienced an increase in Islamophobia and antisemitism.
Several student-led groups, including the Council of American-Islamic Relations, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), held a press conference Thursday to discuss recent hateful messages they have received via email and voicemail.
The email talks about celebrating the deaths of thousands of Muslims. The voicemail, which students said was made by a caller in Oklahoma, includes racial slurs and appears to wish death upon the receiver of the message.
“It’s scary to receive something like that ’cause it’s scary to know that someone went out of their way and looked up our number to send us this hateful message,” said former SJP president Lena Maaroul, who received the voicemail.
“How can someone have this disgusting ideology, and UConn not do anything about it?” Abdul Rehman Ahmed with the MSA said.
UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz told News 8 that the university “recognizes the concern generated by the messages and (it) will join others in condemning the hateful sentiments in the strongest terms.”
“The incidents have been documented through the UConn Bias Reporting process and reported to UConn Police and, in the case of the voicemail, to the police department with jurisdiction in the municipality where the former student resides,” the statement continued.
Just a few hundred feet away from the university’s Islamic Center is UConn Hillel, where Jewish students said they have also felt targeted in recent weeks with increased amounts of antisemitism.
“We’re seeing Jewish students being of target,” said Hillel Student Board President Jessica Beden. “Whether in classrooms, verbally, and at some points physically being hurt, but also a lot on social media.”
Beden said she estimates there have been more than a dozen reported incidents of antisemitism since Oct. 7 but said there are likely several other cases that have not yet been reported.
Hillel, Muslim and Palestinian student organizations feel the university should take a stronger approach to address antisemitism and Islamophobia.
The Muslim and Palestinian student community, in particular, said recent comments from politicians and school officials about the Israel-Hamas conflict have been one-sided, provoking the ongoing hate some students say they are currently experiencing.
With regards to the recent hateful email and voicemail, student groups say they have alerted UConn police and have even taken the matter to the FBI.
The FBI did not respond to News 8’s request for comment.