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UC Santa Barbara student body president allegedly targeted with ‘antisemitic’ signs on campus

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(SANTA BARBARA, C.A.) — The student body president at the University of California, Santa Barbara is calling out alleged antisemitism on campus after she says she was targeted in unauthorized signs displayed at the university’s multicultural center.

Reports of antisemitism and Islamophobia have flooded universities across the U.S. amid rising tensions over the Israel-Hamas war, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Tessa Veksler, a fourth-year student at the university and student body president, shared photos of the signs, with several including her by name, and wrote, “I do not feel safe on campus,” in an Instagram post Monday.

The messages on the signs included “Tessa Veksler supports genocide,” “Zionists not welcome” and “You can run but you can’t hide Tessa Veksler,” her post showed.

“How can Jewish students feel safe when they see a Jewish leader being explicitly targeted? This is dehumanizing and rooted in antisemitism,” Veksler wrote on Instagram. “This incident is not an isolated event but rather a culmination of neglecting to adequately address the implications of such speech and actions within our university.”

UC Santa Barbara’s Office of the Chancellor released a statement to the campus community Monday, saying the messaging was in “violation of our principles of community and inclusion.”

“The signage has been removed and the campus is conducting a bias incident review based on potential discrimination related to protected categories that include religion, citizenship, and national or ethnic origin,” the statement said.

Veksler and the multicultural center have not responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

Michael V. Drake, President of the University of California, provided one-time funding to help UC campuses address and combat antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of bias, bigotry, and discrimination, according to the statement.

UC Berkeley Hillel, an on-campus Jewish Organization, addressed a protest that broke out Monday when an Israeli speaker, Ron Bar-Yoshafat, came to Zellerbach Playhouse.

The organization condemned the protest that allegedly resulted in broken windows and heightened tensions.

“Breaking windows, intimidating students and inciting a mob are never acceptable and have no place in civil discourse,” the organization said in a statement posted to Instagram.

College campuses around the country have grappled with the fallout from conflicting views on the Israel-Hamas war since the surprise terrorist attack by Hamas in Israel on Oct. 7 in which at least 1,200 were killed, according to Israeli officials. In the Gaza Strip, at least 29,878 people have been killed by Israeli forces since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

The U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights is investigating at least 58 universities for complaints that included both antisemitic and anti-Muslim harassment, including at Harvard University, Northwestern University, Yale University, Brown University, Stanford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Last week, Harvard University officials denounced a cartoon deemed antisemitic after it was posted and then deleted on social media by a student group collective.

In January, a group of Jewish students at Harvard filed a federal lawsuit claiming the school has “become a bastion of rampant anti-Jewish hatred and harassment” and alleging the administration has failed to protect them.

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