Your donation will support the student journalists of The Appalachian at Appalachian State University. Your contribution will help us cover some of our operational costs, and continue to provide professional development opportunities for our students at App State. Thank you for your support of local journalism!
Antisemitism and hate at App State
Editor’s note: This story includes antisemitic imagery, antisemitic language and images from white supremacist organizations.
April 26, 2023
Over the past academic year, The Appalachian has tracked and collected incidents of antisemitism and hate on App State’s campus and in the Boone community. Some incidents date back to 2020.
Examples of these incidents include:
- White supremacist organizations placing promotional materials on campus.
- Antisemitic messages sent by students on Campus Stories on Snapchat.
- An individual joining a university-sponsored Zoom to mock Jewish people during a campus event.
- Antisemitic graffiti in the free expression tunnels.
- Evidence of a user on a social media platform identifying as both an App State student and member of a group that supports white supremacists.
Two of these incidents of antisemitism followed activities which were educating attendees against antisemitism and white supremacy. One incident targeted a gathering organized by a Jewish student organization.
The Appalachian reached out to University Communications, as well as Chief Diversity Officer Jamie Parson and Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jeff Cathey regarding these incidents.
The Appalachian attempted to organize an in-person interview to ask questions regarding content included in this article, but questions were only accepted through email.
The complete month-long email exchange between The Appalachian and administrators to answer questions about antisemitism, hate groups and reporting can be seen here.
Names of reporters have been redacted to protect privacy and safety.
“Regardless of the type of incident being reported — whether it’s hateful, violent or discriminatory in nature — the university takes all reports seriously,” Chief Communications Officer Megan Hayes wrote in response to questions from The Appalachian.
“As Chancellor Everts has stated repeatedly during her tenure at App State, and as Chief Diversity Officer Jamie Parson has also shared with campus in numerous messages, the university condemns acts of hatred, and prioritizes the safety of and support for members of the university community when such events affect our campus,” Hayes wrote.
Reporting options for antisemitism, hate, or discrimination can be found at the bottom of this article, and include resources from across the campus, community and state.
“All of us share the responsibility of keeping our campus community safe. We strongly encourage everyone to report these types of incidents to our department. App State Police coordinates closely with the Office of the Dean of Students, Office of Title IX Compliance, Office of Human Resources and the Office of Diversity to help ensure our campus community members are safe and supported,” wrote Andy Stephenson, director of public safety and chief of App State Police.
Antisemitic graffiti during Kristallnacht
Toward the end of fall semester, App State hosted an event to commemorate the 84th anniversary of Kristallnacht, otherwise known as the Night of Broken Glass. Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies and Appalachian State Hillel co-sponsored the events. The events culminated on Nov. 9 with a roundtable discussion including members from Jewish student organizations and the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies.
Kristallnacht is widely considered the turning point during the Holocaust, according to an article from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. During this night in 1938, Jewish businesses, synagogues and homes in Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia were destroyed in a coordinated attack. By the time the violence and destruction ended, 92 people had been killed, roughly 30,000 people had been sent to concentration camps and 1,400 synagogues had been destroyed.
On Nov. 9, the same night as the discussion honoring the Kristallnacht anniversary, reporters from The Appalachian captured images of antisemitic, white supremacist and Nazi imagery painted in the free expression tunnel. Many of these symbols are calling cards for white supremacist groups, along with some being left in defense of and agreement with the rapper and artist Ye.
The Appalachian collected evidence regarding the graffiti and reported it to University Communications.
The Appalachian wrote questions to Free Speech Responsible Officers Jeff Cathey and Jamie Parson regarding this incident.
Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Jeff Cathey wrote “App State is committed to upholding and protecting the freedoms of expression afforded under the United States and North Carolina Constitutions,” but that it is “important to recognize that protected speech can have complex impacts.”
“This is why we regularly engage in dialogue with individuals, groups and departments regarding the impact. We also serve as advocates for the comprehensive system of support resources available on this campus,” Cathey wrote.
He also wrote that the “university’s free speech and expression at App State website provides a clearinghouse of important resources related to this work.”
The email also stated the Office of Diversity will host conversation hours later this semester to discuss recommendations and solicit feedback. As of April 26, Office of Diversity conversation hours have not been announced on the Office of Diversity Engage calendar and did not appear on a search of the App State website.
As the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects the privacy of student information, App State cannot discuss student conduct cases which may have been brought up as a result of any antisemitic incidents or regarding incidents in violation of tunnel painting policy.
Instances of antisemitism on college campuses
Formerly known as Kanye West, Ye went on an antisemitic rant on Twitter in October stating he would “go death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE,” leading to his temporary dismissal from the platform Oct. 10.
Ye returned to Twitter in November, but was later banned Dec. 2 after posting antisemitic imagery of a swastika inside a Star of David. Ye made comments on Infowars, a “far-right radio and internet conspiracy website,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. In December, Ye stated on Infowars, “I see good things about Hitler.”
Nearly 30 antisemitic incidents across the country have been tied to support for Ye, according to a report by the Anti-Defamation League. In the same report, the league identified a group, known as “Groypers,” who are motivating and creating antisemitic acts on college campuses.
“Groyper” is an identifier which is associated with Nick Fuentes, a “white nationalist livestreamer” who has been associated with Ye, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The term “Groyper” is often used with the meme Pepe the Frog, which is connected to white supremacist groups, according to the center.
“Groypers” aim to “defend against the demographic and cultural changes that are destroying the ‘true America,’–– a white, Christian nation,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.
In research by The Appalachian, there is at least one instance of a self-proclaimed “Groyper” identifying as an App State student. An account on the social network Gab, identifies as the “App State Groyper.” The profile uses a combination of university-related media modified to include the Pepe the Frog meme. The account identifies as an App State student, but is not confirmed to be a student.
The account has not been active since February 2022.
White supremacist promotional materials on campus
The spread of white supremacist promotional material has been common on and off of App State’s campus, according to research compiled by The Appalachian.
The organization promoted the materials via the encrypted messaging service Telegram, where sticker postings on various locations across campus, such as a pole outside of Belk Library as well as outside Appalachian Hall and Elkstone Hall, have been displayed on various Patriot Front Telegram channels.
This is not the first time Patriot Front visited App State or Boone.
In 2021, Patriot Front made up over 80% of the white supremacist propaganda distributed on U.S. college campuses, according to an article from the Anti-Defamation League.
Other posts by Patriot Front indicate similar activity at at least two other UNC System campuses–– the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University. There was also a “pop-up protest” at UNC Chapel Hill by Patriot Front in 2019.
Antisemitic language returns with student discussion
Editor’s note: The quotes included are left in their original form and may be distressing for some readers.
On Feb. 13, students on the App State 2025 Snapchat story began to discuss Ye, with some voicing their agreement and support with regard to his antisemitic posts and interviews. Discussion had been spurred by advocacy for Ye in the free expression tunnels.
In order to gain access to this App State 2025 Snapchat story, students must use their university email and include their intended year of graduation.
One student Snapchat user, @hanoodstin, made various posts on the 2025 Snapchat story.
“Kanye is on his way to be proven right in every way and still be called a terrible person,” wrote @hanoodstin in one post.
After these posts were made, another student Snapchat user, @rileyroosa, wrote in response to @hanoodstin’s original post, stating “jews are running this country into the ground.”
@hanoodstin’s original post said the following:
“You’re too easily influenced by popular media if you truly believe that Kanye’s comments were rooted in an origin of hate. He may have tipped his mental scale beyond a point but literally only because he was proven correct No one started by saying they hated the Jews, Ye sure didn’t, he only pointed out that the same small group of people that own the mega-corporations that dominate our lives (media, food products, utilities) fell under that group.The idea of utilizing corporations to overcontrol (innately anti-capitalist) requires the lack of awareness of the people under that. It’s better if they belobe they’re buying from hundreds or thousands of small companies. So when someone exposes…The small group in control, it’s easier to label them a hateful racist because that’s something unanimously hated. I hate racism and discrimination, it kills brotherhood. That’s why it’s their favorite tool.”
The account @rileyroosa made the following comment in response to this user:
“@hanoodstin is right. There’s no racism or religion slander involved. He pointed out the undeniable fact that the Jews are basically the global elite that control the world in many aspects involving governments and business. For example, nearly all of Biden’s cabinet is Jewish, Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of State, Attorney General, CIA Deputy Director, and the list goes on, it’s no coincidence. The Jews are running the nation into the ground. And for all you dipshits who call it racism or slander of religion, go for it, because if someone breathes the wrong way, you pull the racist card so I won’t loose any sleep over your incompetence.”
The original message can be seen here.
The Appalachian reached out to a student who identified themselves as the user @hanoodstin.
In response to a request for comment, @hanoodstin wrote his original comments were “from an under-informed perspective on the totality of Kanye West’s comments.”
“The comments Kanye made regarding the correctness of the Nazi political ideology and the degradation of the Jewish faith are utterly disgusting,” @hanoodstin wrote to The Appalachian. “I in no way agree with this ideology, behavior, or thinking.”
@hanoodstin instead clarified that his argument came from disagreement with current corporate structure, rather than agreement with Kanye West’s beliefs regarding religion or race and that user @rileyroosa misinterpreted their argument.
The Appalachian reached out to a student with a similar name as Snapchat user @rileyroosa, but the student did not respond.
University event targeted by antisemitic Zoom troll, followed by Nazi flag incident at Temple of the High Country
On Feb. 15, App State’s Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies hosted a seminar aimed at raising awareness of rising antisemitism around the country. While the event was hosted in person, Anti-Defamation League associate regional director Rachel Lang attended the meeting through Zoom.
During the beginning of the Zoom, a user joined under the name of a prominent Jewish lawyer, said Amy Hudnall, interim director of the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies. Hudnall said the person who joined posted an antisemitic rant and left quickly after the comment.
Thirty minutes after the event began, Boone Police received a report that an individual was waving a Nazi flag in front of the Temple of the High Country, according to a Feb. 16 press release.
In an email from App State titled “Supporting one another with inclusive practices, celebrating Black History Month,” Chief Diversity Officer Jamie Parson acknowledged the flag, stating “such an expression of hatred and anti-semitism impacts the wellbeing and sense of safety and belonging that all members of our campus community deserve.”
Jewish students discuss experiences of antisemitism across Boone
Note: The names of sources for this section have been kept anonymous for safety concerns.
The Appalachian spoke to Jewish students who have experienced various antisemitic actions, including the targeting of Alpha Epsilon Pi last semester.
One student spoke of the Alpha Epsilon Pi gathering where a group of white men “very slowly” drove by and yelled antisemitic slurs.
The incident was reported to the university, but students expressed frustration about which office or system reports of discrimination go through.
“The school right now doesn’t have an incidence bias reporting system,” one student said. “When we all found out about it, we wanted to report it to the school, but there’s no way. If you go on App’s website, or, like, the Diversity website, there’s no place to actually report online.”
After asking the Office of Diversity about reporting options specifically for incidents of discrimination, students said they were told to “just email” the Office of Diversity.
“But, who knows about that?” a student said. “You know, like, I didn’t even know about that.”
Students also spoke of being yelled at for wearing a yarmulke while being on King Street, and an instance of a lady wearing a dress “with swastikas on it.”
Students expressed they were thankful for the support they have received from the Office of Diversity and Office of Student Affairs, which has included Jewish student organizations on the Intercultural Student Affairs council.
Reporting hate at App State compared to other UNC System schools
While App State does not provide a reporting system only for acts of discrimination, several UNC System schools do provide such reporting systems.
App State’s incident report system does not have a direct option to report concerns or incidents of discrimination which do not qualify as direct harassment of one’s age, race, or religion. Report systems offer options to report incidents regarding intimate partner violence, student misconduct, emotional well-being of students, harassment and employment-related issues.
While allegations of student misconduct can be reported to the Office of Student Conduct, the reporting form notes that “reporting parties should be aware that the incident report and notes become part of the student record and the student has the right to see this documentation, including the name of the person who wrote the report.”
Parson wrote that if specific elements of harassment haven’t been met to move a claim forward “the university still responds, but it won’t pursue the steps of a policy violation.”
“There are a variety of discrimination laws that apply in a higher education setting such as employment discrimination laws (e.g. Title VII, ADA, ADEA), Title IX and Title VI. Additionally, App State has several policies that apply to the campus (e.g. policy 110 and policy 112). To make claims under discrimination and harassment laws and policies, specific elements must be demonstrated. A harassment claim varies depending on which law or policy is alleged to have been violated. If someone thinks they are in a situation where they are being harassed, they should report it. Any of these offices will initiate a university response: App State Police, the Office of the Dean of Students, Office of Title IX Compliance, Office of Human Resources or the Office of Diversity. All of these offices work together to address concerns on campus,” Parson wrote.
Although certain claims may not violate policy, it is still important to follow-up, understand, and respond to the incident, Parson wrote.
“This doesn’t mean that what happened to that person or group is not important; it means that we don’t or cannot have a policy or take formal disciplinary action against the other party, so we will respond differently. We still reach out to the individual who made the report and offer support,” Parson wrote. “That support can take a variety of forms, and includes the preferences of those who need and want the support. Responses range from an informal 1:1 conversation to more structured conversations with the involved parties.”
Parson wrote that “a working group of faculty, staff and students is reviewing our processes for addressing those incidents not covered by policy or law.”
Chief of App State Police Andy Stephenson said that App State Police routinely monitor all areas of campus, and “don’t hesitate to immediately inform the App State community about credible threats to campus.”
“When incidents are reported, police are involved in the response throughout the entire process. If no crime or university policy violation has been committed, we still participate in campus outreach and conversations. We want everyone on our campus to feel safe and share a sense of belonging. We strive to create and maintain a campus environment in which every individual feels comfortable in expressing who they are,” Stephenson wrote.
Recent history of antisemitism at App State
In August 2017, a banner belonging to the far-right group American Identity Movement, formerly known as Identity Evropa, was hung on the bridge leading to Rivers Street Parking Deck.
Antisemitic stickers were previously found on campus in 2017, as reported by The Appalachian.
In March 2018, The Appalachian published a guest opinion by a Jewish student about their experiences on campus. In the article, the student outlined hearing students calling them a “Jew” while with friends. The student opinion article also discussed antisemitic stickers, alongside Nazi imagery carved into benches during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the holiest of holidays in Judaism.
In October 2018, students noticed graffiti in one of the free expression tunnels, which included both antisemitic phrases and images.
In a statement to the Winston-Salem Journal, Megan Hayes said the graffiti was covered by other students within an hour of it being found.
Responding to the graffiti, Chancellor Sheri Everts wrote “As we strive for inclusive excellence of all members of Appalachian’s Community, the unfortunate reality is our university regularly manages instances of hatred, bigotry and ignorance that attempt to stoke fear and anxiety and divide and factionalize our community.”
In 2018, The Appalachian partnered with ProPublica’s Documenting Hate project which aims to document reports from victims and witnesses alike to build a database of reports on hate crimes and hate speech. The project started in 2016, and ended in 2019.
During July 2020, an App State students car was covered in racist and antisemitic symbols and phrases. According to the statement made by the Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies, the student had his vehicle parked in the basketball arena lot.
Resources for reporting, counseling
Concerns about possible hate crimes, hate group activity, or threats of violence against university and community members can be reported to the university at https://report.appstate.edu/.
Options to report to App State Police can be found at https://police.appstate.edu/report-crime.
Possible hate crimes, threats against community members, or organized violent activity can be reported to the Federal Bureau of Intelligence.
Students affected by acts of discrimination are encouraged to reach out to the Dean of Students in suite 324 Plemmons Student Union. Students can contact the office in-person, via phone, or via email. The Dean of Students phone number is 828-262-8284. The Dean of Students email is email@example.com.
The university also offers an Employee Assistance Program, and Counseling for Faculty and Staff offers services for faculty, staff and their immediate families. The Center for Judaic, Holocaust, and Peace Studies offers open conversation weekdays 9 a.m.-4 p.m. in Edwin Duncan room 102.
“It is critically important that students in particular are aware of how to report incidents of concern. In an emergency situation, dial 9-1-1 immediately. If you have concerns about the safety of yourself or others, please contact App State Police at 828-262-8000. A full list of additional reporting options is available at visit report.appstate.edu,” Hayes wrote.