Tessa Veksler, a senior at the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), has recently garnered attention as the student body president who spoke out against antisemitic messages targeting her on campus. Veksler, 21, took to social media to express her concerns after signs condemning Zionism and directly targeting her were plastered at the UCSB Multicultural Center.

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Who is Tessa Veksler?

Born to Soviet refugees who fled discrimination based on their Jewish identities, Veksler highlighted the irony of facing similar hate in the United States, where her parents sought refuge. Despite feeling unsafe on campus, she remains resilient, stating that she will not be intimidated or driven away by antisemitism.

Tessa Veksler (x/@trishaposner)

The incident at UCSB is not isolated but reflects broader tensions on university campuses nationwide following the Israel-Hamas conflict. As antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents increase, universities like UCSB are under scrutiny for their handling of such bias-related incidents.

In response to the incident, UCSB’s Office of the Chancellor issued a statement, condemning the signage as a violation of the university’s principles of community and inclusion. The campus is conducting a bias incident review to address potential discrimination based on protected categories, including religion and national or ethnic origin.

Veksler’s courage in speaking out against antisemitism has garnered support from various quarters, including actress Mayim Bialik. The incident underscores the ongoing challenges faced by Jewish students on college campuses and the need for universities to address and combat antisemitism effectively.

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As tensions persist, initiatives like one-time funding provided by UC President Michael V. Drake aim to help campuses address and combat antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of bias and discrimination. The incident involving Veksler serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle to create inclusive and safe environments for all students on college campuses.