Breaking Campus News. Launching Media Careers.
Even red state colleges are folding to antisemitism. I experienced it firsthand.

OPINION: As editor-in-chief of my student newspaper, I tried to publish a profile of a student worried about his friends in Israel. The fallout was typical.

In the weeks since the Hamas invasion of Israel on Oct. 7, students and faculty at colleges across the U.S. have given way to the pressures of antisemitic, pro-Hamas voices, abandoning moral clarity and sound judgment.

While students at Ivy League and coastal schools have been among the most prominent examples, students in deeply red, southern states have joined in supporting terrorism and suppressing pro-Israel voices.

Just two weeks ago, I was the editor-in-chief of Middle Tennessee State University’s student newspaper, MTSU Sidelines. Animated by the horrific images I saw Oct. 7, I wrote a story profiling a MTSU student worried about his friends in Tel Aviv.

Sidelines received unprecedented feedback from students on the article’s Instagram post, and the student I profiled asked that I take down the article out of concern for his safety. I did.

But then the editorial board, against my expressed wishes, published a statement: “In retrospect, Sidelines failed to report on the casualties the Palestinian people have suffered and focused only on damage done to the Israeli population.”

Even though we published my profile story to the Sidelines website days before we posted it to Instagram, the editors and faculty advisor did not say I had “failed to report” on anything until the article had garnered more comments than I have ever seen on a Sidelines piece, nearly all of them from the “Free Palestine” crowd.

The editors who worked on the statement and our faculty advisor ignored my several protestations against its wording.

Unable to stand behind a dishonest and harmful representation of my story, I resigned.

And so I, a student in a public university journalism program in deep-red Tennessee, joined the company of student newspaper contributors like Sahar Tartak, who, in a Yale Daily News opinion piece, dared to speak the widely reported truth that Hamas terrorists had raped women and beheaded men during the Oct. 7 attack. The paper’s editorial board censored her with a “correction,” The Washington Free Beacon reported Oct.31.

The editors’ note read, “Oct. 25: This column has been edited to remove unsubstantiated claims that Hamas raped women and beheaded men.” The student newspaper later apologized for that.

Many of us have been desensitized to things like this happening at Ivy League schools since we have been confronted with so many examples.

Just after the attack, dozens of student groups at Harvard University signed a letter “hold[ing] the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence,” The Fix reported at the time.

ABC reported Nov. 2 that Ibrahim Bharma, a Harvard student and editor of the Harvard Law Review, joined several others in cornering and shouting at a Jewish student, according to the antisemitism watchdog group Canary Mission.

Students at many elite universities, including Stanford and American University in Washington D.C., have demanded the university support Palestinians and end support for Israel.

Even red state students justify terror

I had not expected such things to happen at the likes of Middle Tennessee State University.

However, my university is not the only red-state public campus where students have attempted to suppress sympathy for Israel.

Two days after Oct. 7, a vigil honoring killed Israelis at the University of Florida was interrupted by a stampede of students, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

At the University of Arizona, two education professors were recorded telling a “Cultural Pluralism for Young Children” class that Hamas is not comprised of terrorists, but is a “resistance” group opposed to Zionism, The Fix reported.

University of Georgia police arrested a student after allegedly saying he would kill an Israeli student and using an antisemitic slur on Oct. 20, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Even more, according to recent research, a majority of students across the country support for Hamas or equate the extremist group with Israel. Fifty-one percent of people aged 18 to 24 in the U.S. surveyed by a Harvard/Harris poll believe the Oct. 7 attack was “justified.”

Additionally, 52 percent do not believe Israel is justified in its mission to destroy Hamas, the poll found. Fifty-three percent think falsely that Israel, not Hamas, governs Gaza. Finally, a whopping 64 percent believe that Israel and Hamas are “morally equivalent” in their causes.

Thankfully, most of these majorities are slim; most still identify Hamas as a terrorist group, and 52 percent will say they side with Israel when directly asked.

That said, these majorities are loud as well. My school’s chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America recently held a vigil for Palestinian victims a little more than a week after I tried to tell the story of a student watching to see if his friends would meet the same fate.

My campus’ anti-Israel students have been shouting. Now I am shouting back. We must match and exceed their volume.

Not all ground has been ceded yet, but young people on college campuses not yet captured by this moral insanity need to realize what time it is. We must take action before things get worse.

MORE: Fired DEI administrator says DEI ideology fosters campus antisemitism

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified as Israeli the student profiled in Matthew Giffin’s retracted MTSU Sidelines story.

IMAGE: Matthew Giffin

Like The College Fix on Facebook / Follow us on Twitter

Please join the conversation about our stories on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, MeWe, Rumble, Gab, Minds and Gettr.

About the Author
Matthew Giffin -- Middle Tennessee State University