Rising hate crimes reported on campus

Students reported multiple hate crimes to the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUDPS) over the past weeks, amid rising tensions over the Israel-Gaza war.

There are four active incidents on the University’s Protected Identity Harm (PIH) Reporting site. One hate crime was reported this Monday: a Jewish student’s religious symbol was taken from their door. Three other hate incidents were reported in last week’s police blotter, two of which took place in White Plaza. A third incident in White Plaza — an alleged assault of two students taking down posters of Israeli civilians held hostage by Hamas — was reported two weeks ago.

University spokesperson Mara Vandlik wrote that despite this being “a time of heightened anxiety and concern for many in our campus community,” current data shows there “has not been a significant increase” in the number of hate crimes on campus. 

Some students told The Daily that they personally witnessed a number of incidents they believed constituted hate crimes, only some of which have been reported.

On Oct. 28, an undergraduate Jewish student reported that a mezuzah was removed from their residence doorframe — the scroll and case were taken, and the decorative cloth was left behind. The removal of this sacred religious symbol is under investigation by SUDPS as a hate incident.

“This removal of a sacred religious symbol is deemed a form of intimidation targeting the Jewish community,” the University wrote on the PIH site. “Stanford considers antisemitic acts to be abhorrent.”

Andrei Mandelshtam ’25, co-president of the Stanford Israel Association, described a marked increase in antisemitism on campus. “We have seen calls to violence and the glorification of our deaths aimed at our own community,” he wrote. 

The “overall campus environment has led many [Jewish students] to have to stay off campus,” Mandelshtam wrote.

Tensions on campus have risen since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7 and killed over 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians. Hamas also took more than 220 people hostage, according to reporting from the New York Times. Israel launched retaliatory airstrikes and ground operations with infantry and tanks.

More than 8,000 people have been killed in Gaza, including more than 3,000 children, according to the Gaza health ministry, as reported by the Times.

There were three other reports of hate crimes in White Plaza.

On Oct. 23, an attempted battery was reported at White Plaza. While a student of color was tabling at a pro-Palestinian display, an unknown female in a wheelchair reportedly called the student “disgusting” and attempted to spit on them. The incident is under investigation by SUDPS and has been classified as a hate incident. The University condemned “hate targeting the Muslim, Arab and Palestinian communities,” on the PIH site.

Students started a sit-in in White Plaza on Oct. 20 to demand the University issue a statement calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and condemning what they referred to as Israeli war crimes.

“There has been a massive amount of Islamophobia on campus in recent weeks,” said Draper Dayton ’25, a participant at the sit-in. “Many of these are things that I have witnessed personally and many others have been witnessed by my close friends.”

Another student reported that a bicyclist intentionally rode over their tote bag while they were seated in White Plaza on Oct. 19. The tote bag was “decorated with Arabic calligraphy in the shape of Palestine” and “contained a laptop, water bottle and other valuables,” according to the report on the PIH site. The water bottle and the bag were reportedly damaged. 

SUDPS spokesperson Bill Larson wrote that, “the tote bag was on the ground next to the victim who was seated at a table with pro-Palestinian literature. The student has chosen to remain anonymous. The bicyclist is unknown.” The incident is under investigation by SUDPS.

On Oct. 15, two students reported being assaulted after taking down posters of kidnapped Israelis. The three students were removing posters depicting Israeli civilians kidnapped by Hamas when another student yelled, “Shut the fuck up,” in a video reviewed by The Daily. According to the two alleged victims, the alleged perpetrator continued to yell and shoved them. The alleged perpetrator disputed that there was any physical contact.

The PIH Reporting site states that the incident is under investigation as a hate crime.

Larson wrote in a statement to The Daily that the SUDPS investigation was complete. “The report will now be submitted to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office for their review to determine what charge(s) to file, if any,” Larson wrote.

There was a report in the police blotter about statements at a pro-Palestine event but no related incident on the PIH site. According to Larson, people who attended the Oct. 20 event reported that the comments made at the event were “aggressive and threatening.”

“The comments were not criminal in nature,” Larson wrote.

“We’ve seen chants for our death in public” and “calling to take up arms against Zionists (90% of American Jews) on Stanford campus at the SJP rally,” Mandelshtam wrote.

Mandelshtam wrote that, “While we have not personally witnessed any instances of aggression from our community, we know Islamophobia is still prevalent in the U.S. and are always saddened by news of discrimination.”

Dayton said that the University has not taken any “significant action” in response to reports of Islamophobia. He pointed to a lack of dedicated resources for affected students and “any plan to combat rising Islamophobia.”

The University referred The Daily to a recently-published page that “includes resources and information on campus events, safety and well-being for students and other members of the campus community.”

Dayton said he found it troubling that students “who advocate for Palestine are increasingly being labeled antisemitic themselves.” As a Jewish student who advocates for Palestine, Dayton said, “I find statements which equate criticism of Israel with antisemitism highly offensive. Am I a Jewish antisemite because I condemned the massacre of civilians?”

“Stanford continues to process and address incidents where a community member experiences harm because of who they are and how they show up in the world through Protected Identity Harm (PIH),” Vandlik wrote. “Whether or not an incident meets the definition of a hate crime, we respond and provide support and care to the students who are impacted.”

Greta Reich contributed reporting.