Students condemn lack of University action on Islamophobia as hate crime investigation continues over hit-and-run

Nov. 4, 2023, 9:57 p.m.

Antisemitic messages were written in chalk on White Plaza Wednesday, near a pro-Palestine sit-in. The chalk messages were falsely assumed to be written by pro-Palestinian students at the sit-in and were circulated widely on social media.

The chalking follows a reported rise of hate crimes targeting Muslim, Arab and Jewish students on campus.

Arrows around the messages pointed at the sit-in, and were phrased in a way that implied they were written by its participants. President Richard Saller said that “the chalking was created by a Jewish community member who was trying to use irony and sarcasm to draw negative attention to the pro-Palestinian protests on campus,” at Thursday’s Faculty Senate session.

Saller referenced an Instagram post by Hillel that has since been taken down.

In a statement to The Daily, University spokesperson Dee Mostofi wrote, “The chalking was repugnant and offensive to both Jewish and Muslim community members.”

Rabbi Jessica Kirschner, executive director of Hillel at Stanford, wrote to The Daily that “the individual was not a student” and “Hillel was not involved.” 

“What students told me is that the individual was attempting to use irony to make a point, thought better of it, erased it, and apologized to students in the tent area,” Kirschner wrote.

"Come chat about how Jewish babies should be burned alive" written in chalk alongside an arrow and a smiley face.

A photo of the chalk, along with added text on the image that implied the messages were written by sit-in participants, was posted to social media on Thursday and went viral on X (formerly Twitter), with over 2.3 million views as of Saturday.

Some responses called for the expulsion of pro-Palestinian sit-in participants. Stanford alumni have also approached the sit-in with the belief that the chalking was written by participants, according to an email from sit-in participants obtained by The Daily. 

One response on X to the initial tweet — which implied the message was written by sit-in participants — read, “I know there are some Israeli students in Stanford who served in the IDF and I really hope that they went to ‘chat’ about it with them.” Another read “Stanford has officially fallen.”

Over the past two weeks, members of the sit-in and students in the greater Stanford community have filed “dozens of harassment cases,” “without adequate response or explicit public condemnation from the University,” the email read.

Sit-in participants also expressed frustration that administrators reportedly threatened disciplinary action if they did not end the overnight portion of the sit-in due to safety concerns.

Vice Provost Susie Brubaker-Cole and Dean Mona Hicks initially asked sit-in participants to end the overnight encampments by Nov. 6 out of concern for the sit-in protesters and “the risks posed by overnight camping in the midst of an open campus,” Mostofi told The Daily. 

Brubaker-Cole and Hicks have since retracted their request and there are “no plans for disciplinary action for the sit-in at White Plaza,” Mostofi wrote.

On Friday morning, the students at the sit-in wrote to the administration requesting them to widely publicize the truth about the chalking. According to Draper Dayton ’25, a participant at the sit-in, the email wrote that if the University “did nothing in the face of defamatory attacks and online calls to violence, they would be communicating that aggression toward Palestinian, Arab Muslim and pro-Palestinian students is tolerated on this campus.”

Dayton said “it took less than a day for our fear to come true” and that he believed a hit-and-run incident that took place Friday was motivated by Islamophobia. The hit-and-run is being investigated as a hate crime.

Abdulwahab Omira ’23, a Muslim Arab co-term student at Stanford, was the victim of the hit-and-run at Campus Drive and Ayrshire Farm Lane. Omira said he was deliberately hit while wearing a shirt with text in Arabic.

The driver allegedly “made eye contact with the victim, accelerated and struck the victim, and then drove away while shouting ‘f*** you and your people’ out the lowered window of the vehicle,” according to an updated AlertSU from the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS).

Omira was sent to the emergency room and is currently hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries, according to a Friday email from Saller and Provost Jenny Martinez.

According to the email from sit-in participants, Omira recognized the perpetrator as someone who previously recorded protestors at pro-Palestine rallies.

The suspect was described as “a white male in his mid 20s, with short dirty-blond hair and a short beard,” in the AlertSU. He was wearing a gray shirt and round framed eyeglasses at the time of the incident.

Omira, in a statement to The Daily, expressed profound disappointment with the University: “The hours following the incident were agonizingly silent from the institution that I had trusted to be my safeguard.’”

Omira criticized the University’s “belated response” and implored community members to “collectively denounce hatred, bigotry, and violence.” 

Sit-in participants expressed similar sentiments regarding the lack of response from the University. The University sent the AlertSU message approximately eight hours after the incident.

“Our sit-in has tirelessly campaigned for the University administration to acknowledge the pattern of racism and Islamophobia at Stanford,” they wrote.

Mostofi wrote on behalf of the University, “we continue to urge our community to engage with respect for one another’s humanity, as members of our community discuss deeply divergent viewpoints in this challenging period of time.”

Anna Yang '27 is a Vol. 265 Title IX Beat Reporter and university desk staff writer from the Bay Area, CA. Contact news 'at'

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