Sydney Greenspoon
JD Candidate at the University of Windsor Law

Antisemitism on Campus: The Reality for Jewish University Students in Canada

After attending the University of Western Ontario for my undergraduate degree and now completing my studies at the University of Windsor (UWindsor) Faculty of Law, it is safe to say that I have experienced and seen my fair share of antisemitism on Ontario university campuses. Being a Jew, especially a proud Zionist Jew, has always been a struggle in my years at university. My difficulties have included facing derogatory and antisemitic comments made by classmates, professors singling me out because of my beliefs, and a general lack of compassion towards the alarmingly increasing rate of antisemitism that has grown steadily in my time as a student. I have had professors schedule exams on Jewish holidays, with little understand of why I would be unable to write the exam, heard peers and professors belittle or deny the Holocaust and have had friends ask me once they find out I’m Jewish if I denounce Zionism. For me, Zionism is an integral, if not the most integral, aspect of what it means to be Jewish. Zionism is Jewish self-determination in our re-established ancestral homeland, where we can be free and safe from the antisemitism that has been present for millennia.¹ I have always understood Zionism in the context of my religious beliefs and as a major aspect of Jewish life that is ingrained in our prayers, way of living, and daily practices. It was only when I began university that I found out that such a fundamental aspect of my religious and ethnic identity would be a problem. Going into my final year of law school, I thought I had seen all the ugly faces of antisemitism, but nothing could have prepared me for the extreme and blatant forms of antisemitism we have currently been facing at UWindsor. It was only this year that I realized that not only was my Zionism at issue, but my Judaism was as well.

Out of the 16,000 students that attend UWindsor, it is estimated that no more than 35 identify as Jewish, with approximately 30 of us attending the law school.² That is just over 0.2% of the student-body, which likely explains the lack of Jewish organizations and clubs on campus. For instance, there is no Hillel, Students Supporting Israel clubs, or Chabad on campus (aside from the amazing local Chabad rabbi). The sole Jewish representation on campus is the Jewish Law Students Association (JSA), of which I am proud to serve as co-president.

If you had asked me prior to October 7th what it was like to be a Jewish student at UWindsor, I would have told you that there is much apathy towards antisemitism on campus. I would have explained how Jewish students’ voices were never truly respected or listened to on campus, likely due to being such a small fraction of the student population. Every few months there would be an antisemitic incident, and then, all too often, the JSA executives would receive some sort of retroactive apology from the school administration. We would hear a variety of promises for change on behalf of the university (that would never come to fruition), just to end up in the President’s office a couple of months later to receive another apology. Though instances of antisemitism would ebb and flow, after October 7th, it became an almost daily occurrence.

I would now characterize UWindsor as an unsafe place to be an openly proud Jew. It is a campus that fosters hate and allows antisemitism to flourish, forcing the few Jewish students to hide any sign of our Jewish identity, in fear for our physical and psychological safety. This is the new reality we, the Jewish students, are facing on campus. I realized my life would never be the same as a Jewish student just a few hours into October 7th, the day of the worst massacre the Jewish nation has experienced since the Holocaust.

My October 7th began like many other North American Jews: waking up to hundreds of notifications on my phone, instantly breaking into tears and panic, and checking on my friends and family in Israel to ensure they were safe. My next instinct was to jump into proactive action, as I knew from experience that when war breaks out in Israel, it is always followed by increased antisemitism in the Jewish diaspora. I felt as though I had a duty to jump into action to ensure my fellow Jewish students on campus could feel safe, represented, and heard by the only Jewish club on campus. So, my co-president and I, like every other JSA club at law schools across Ontario, posted a statement on Instagram in solidarity with Israel and condemning Hamas terrorism. Before “Black Saturday” was even over, the JSA received an email from Windsor Students’ Law Society (SLS), the law school’s student council. Without an ounce of compassion, the SLS advised my co-president and I that the SLS executive had made a unanimous decision that the JSA message was “inappropriate” and asked that it be removed due to its “strong, targeted, and divisive language and the politicized nature of the post” and that it was “distressing” to the wider law school community. The SLS also sent a mass email to over 60 of our peers stating that, effective immediately, a new rule was enacted that no ratified club under the purview of the SLS would be allowed to make a “politicized post.” There was not one person who received this mass email who was blind to the fact that this new rule was created for, and directly correlated to, the statement made by the one and only Jewish club at UWindsor. It was a vicious attempt to silence the views, feelings, and grievances of the JSA and our constituents. Before the blood had even dried in the kibbutzim ransacked by Hamas, on the worst day in the collective modern psyche of the Jewish people, the SLS purported to immediately and unilaterally enact a new rule in an effort to suppress Jewish students’ freedom of expression.

Thinking back to how I felt that night, I was very angry. I was angry that individuals could see the bloodshed on October 7th and not have any empathy for how it must feel to be a Jewish student witnessing Hamas’s unspeakable brutality. I felt angry that my homeland was invaded, with innocent civilians brutalized, and somehow the first instinct of the SLS members was to take active steps to silence the JSA and belittle our position as “political.” I also felt sad. I was sad to lose so much respect for those members of the SLS who were, I believed, my friends. Yet, I decided to harness those feelings to fight for the truth and for what is right. Recalling the courage of so many of my Jewish ancestors who remained steadfast in their fight against antisemitism, I was determined not to be a Jew with trembling knees, but a proud Jewish Zionist, who is immensely proud of her heritage, her people, and our collective resilience. I would not let anyone shame me because of who I am, and that was going to start with me taking on the SLS.

After reviewing the Constitution and by-laws that regulate the SLS, it was evident that neither the SLS nor its executive members had the power to regulate a club’s social media posts or compel us to take the post down. Further, as the SLS never communicated to the JSA about any alleged rule that “politicalized” posts on a club’s official social media channels were not allowed, prior to the JSA’s post regarding standing with Israel, we believed the new rule, aimed at the only Jewish club on campus, was highly discriminatory in nature. My co-president and I delivered a strongly worded response to the SLS, asserting that we would not take down the JSA’s statement, arguing the SLS’s lack of authority to regulate a club’s social media posts, its discriminatory rule making, and disputing the finding of “inappropriateness” by discussing each sentence of our statement. We noted that we would not be silent or silenced by their attempts to discriminate against Jewish students.

After five days, the SLS sent out a mass email to university clubs revoking its new rule. At the same time, the SLS responded to the JSA by referring us to the mass email, with no reference to the substance of our arguments, their discriminatory actions, and with no apology.

Following this incident, and as predicted, antisemitism on campus has been unprecedented. Students have accused me and other JSA members on their social media accounts of being Islamophobic for saying “From the River to the Sea” and “Globalize the Intifada” are antisemitic phrases.³ Students have openly mocked and laughed at the October 7th massacre, spreading revolting blood libels that, likely unbeknownst to them, have been around for centuries. These are the same students who, prior to encountering me and my Jewish peers in law school, have likely never met Jewish people before.

Since October 7th and throughout this experience, The Palestinian Solidarity Group (PSG) at UWindsor has busily spewed antisemitic rhetoric, which has spread rapidly across campus. On October 10th, the first of their many rallies took place, a rally to “mobilize for the Day of Resistance” in Gaza, with posters depicting the very Hamas paragliders involved in the massacre of babies, the brutal rape of women, and the kidnapping of innocent civilians. The event was a vile glorification of October 7th. As a Jewish student who was grieving for my family and friends in Israel, seeing such posters celebrating the atrocious acts of Hamas as “resistance” was soul crushing. It felt like I was watching Nazi propaganda in the 1930’s. When I reached out to the university administration, I was told that nothing would be done to suppress this event, or similar events in the future. It was at this moment, after being unjustly discriminated against by the SLS, having no official condemnation for the celebration of barbaric terrorism from the school, and being told nothing could be done to stop a club from celebrating the rape, murder, and kidnapping of Jews, that I realized that Jewish students at the UWindsor were completely on our own. There would be no support for us on campus and no attempt by the university administration, nor the law school, to protect Jewish students against acts of antisemitism. This inaction served to enable more antisemitism to flourish on campus in the coming weeks and months.

Rallies and walk-outs continued across campus, and still occur almost weekly, as well as in the surrounding Windsor-Essex area. At these rallies, people have been heard chanting “death to the Jews” in Arabic, posters have been held stating “Palestinian resistance is never unprovoked. Ask why?”, and, most recently, and arguably most disgustingly, “Saved from Nazis to become Nazis.” Without any form of opposition to these rallies, the posters have only gotten more vicious and antisemitic. While sitting in my lectures, as these protests take place in and around the law school, I am forced to listen to blood-curdling chants. The participants are, openly and unashamedly, calling for the genocide of the inhabitants of the State of Israel, where my family and friends live. When hundreds of students march around campus on a weekly basis chanting for the genocide of my people, how could any Jewish student feel safe to be open about their identity? Each of these events has been “explicitly Anti-Zionist,” but we, the Jewish students at UWindsor, know exactly who they are referring to, and I feel as though these groups know exactly who they are targeting in their exclusionary and discriminatory language. It is no longer safe to be a Jew, let alone a Zionist, at UWindsor.

Then there are my law professors. Many of them have proudly spewed antisemitic rhetoric in the past, but all bets were off after October 7th. Many tweeted in celebration of the “resistance” of Hamas on October 7th, denied the rape and murder of Israeli women, and even went so far as denying antisemitism’s existence, even though antisemitic hate crimes represent the largest number of hate-based crimes in Canada. The common sentiment among the law professors was and continues to be that Israel has no right to exist, that all Jews are “white-colonist settlers,” that there is no Jewish connection to the State of Israel, and that Zionism is the highest form of evil. This was clear right from the get-go when one professor tweeted in support of the gruesome Hamas acts on October 7th, stating it was a “revolt” and that such an act was justified. These antisemitic views were put on full display at an SLS-run event called “Silence or Silenced,” where four law professors discussed the suppression of Palestinian freedom of speech. At this event, one professor stated that he would not allow any student who identified as a Zionist in his lectures. Another professor called the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted by both Canada and Ontario as the official definition of antisemitism, an “ethno-nationalist doctrine” used to suppress Palestinian scholarship to further the “colonial occupation of Palestinian territories” through “nationalist attacks on academic freedom.” These professors claimed that the history of Zionism erases the Palestinian people’s right to resist under Israeli “occupation” and “apartheid,” thereby further justifying the “resistance” of October 7th. This event completely white-washed the Jewish people and our diverse backgrounds and served as a springboard to further spew antisemitism under the guise of the topic of Palestinian freedom of speech. Ironically, in my view, there has been zero suppression of Palestinian freedom of speech on campus; it is, in fact, us Jews who have been intimidated and scared to discuss Israel, Zionism or Judaism on campus in the current environment.

It is disheartening to me that those professors to whom I have entrusted my legal education are largely those professors who have been agitating with antisemitic rhetoric at on-campus events, within the classroom, and on their public social media accounts. It is difficult for me to reconcile how I can properly learn from individuals who hold such extreme and radical views about my people, religion, and heritage. They wholly disregard egregious human rights violations, genocides, and ethnic cleansings that actually take place around the world, while criminalizing the only Jewish state in an attempt to intimidate Jewish students and force other students to adhere to their political agendas. I am truly frightened for what this will mean for the next generation of lawyers and for what beliefs they will hold when practicing law in the years to come. Will my peers and the students who come after me think spewing antisemitic rhetoric under the guise of anti-Zionism is something tolerated in the legal profession? How can I feel comfortable that my professors are giving me adequate tools to succeed in the legal field when they hold such hateful viewpoints that are so blatantly against the free and democratic values that bind the Canadian legal system together?

With every new walk out, rally or event permitted or condoned by the university and the law school, it demonstrates that hate and antisemitism have a place on campus. The climate for Jewish students is a climate of fear and intimidation. UWindsor has become a hotbed for antisemitism, where Jewish students are compelled to not only accept, but expect antisemitism to occur. This was exactly the case on January 30th, when the JSA participated in a club’s day event at UWindsor. We expected to receive backlash due to the rhetoric spread on campus, but we did not expect to be verbally harassed, threatened, and called “murderers” by other students while sitting at our booth promoting Jewish culture, religion and, ironically, teaching about the dangers of antisemitism. In fear for our physical safety, we were forced to flee the event. No bystanders offered us any support and, to the contrary, many of them joined in on the slander, yelling “Free Palestine” at us as we departed. This is the new climate of Jew-hatred on campus.

The administration at UWindsor must take action to protect Jewish students by being vocal in their support for the safety of Jewish students on campus. This starts with the administration unequivocally rejecting the hateful push for a “widespread adoption” of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that is being imposed by students on our campus. They must denounce the hateful rhetoric being spewed at rallies at the university and in particular, those that take place inside the law building, in an attempt to intimidate and silence the only meaningful population of Jewish students on campus. Only then can we work together to make UWindsor a place where, regardless of one’s religious, cultural or ethnic background and beliefs, they can feel safe to be themselves on campus.

Though it is hard to find a silver lining to all of this hatred on campus, I am proud of the strength and resiliency of my Jewish student colleagues in these turbulent and exhausting times. I attribute so much of my own strength and resiliency to being an Emerson Fellow with StandWithUs Canada, an organization that has served as a beacon of light and support for not only me, but all Jewish students on campus. Though we may be small in numbers, the Jewish students at UWindsor have been amazingly brave in the face of extreme adversity and overt antisemitism and have shown incredible perseverance that has inspired me to continue to be an advocate for change. As the Jews have always done, we will overcome. This too shall pass. Am Yisrael Chai.


[1] For more information on the definition and history of Zionism, see

[2] This is an estimate as the University of Windsor does not conduct a census asking about individual Jewish identity. Outside the law school, the writer is only aware of two Jewish students in the undergraduate programs and three in other graduate programs.

[3] “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free” calls for the establishment of a state of Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, thereby erasing the State of Israel and removing all the Israeli civilians who live between the “river” and the “sea”. There is nothing antisemitic about advocating for Palestinian rights, but to advocate for the elimination of the Jewish State, which this phrase calls for, is antisemitic. (

“Globalize the Intifada” is a call for violence against Israelis, Jews and institutions supporting Israel. The First Intifada was a period of widespread acts of violence in Israel from 1987 to the early 1990s, with the Second Intifada beginning from 2000 to 2005. These periods were characterized by high numbers of indiscriminate causalities through suicide bombings in civilian areas, with over 1,000 Israeli civilians murdered. Calling to “Globalize the Intifada” calls for people around to world to participate in the rising up against Israel and Jews worldwide. (


About the Author
Sydney Greenspoon is a law student in her final year at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law. She graduated from the University of Western Ontario in 2021 after completing her Bachelor of Social Work degree. Throughout her years on university campuses, Sydney has been a strong advocate against antisemitism and anti-Zionism and a proud supporter of the Jewish homeland, the State of Israel. Sydney currently serves as a Co-President of Windsor Law’s Jewish Students Association and is an Emerson Fellow with StandWithUs Canada.
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