by Valen Lambert and Dezmond Remington
In the lonely strip of land that is the North Coast, Arcata is famed for being a haven for tolerance and relative diversity. Cal Poly Humboldt in particular is a shelter for people of all creeds and beliefs. However, it isn’t immune to hatred.
According to the University Police Department, an unidentified suspect vandalized the sukkah set up on the UC quad with an anti-semitic message at around 1:30 pm on Oct. 9. The sukkah, set up for eight days during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, symbolizes the Jewish people’s dependence on God. No update on the suspect has been reported.
Student response was immediate. The rabbi for the Jewish Student Group, Chabad took the sukkah down immediately when they realized what had happened. Members of the club were disappointed. President Noach Guttman, who had attended a Jewish private school his whole life, said it was his first time experiencing anti-semitic hate speech ever.
“I’ve only found interested people,” Guttman said. “They [say things] like, ‘Hey man, I like your yarmulke.’ I’m like, sweet… I was just disappointed that this happened the day after the largest Jewish massacre since the Holocaust [referring to the Oct. 7 bombing of Israel by Hamas]. That’s what upsets me the most.”
Despite the act of hatred, Guttman does not have plans to return the favor.
“I hold no hate for this person whatsoever,” Guttman said. “I truly believe they’re just misinformed… the sukkah has no connection to the state of Israel. It’s a solely Jewish structure… if they understood the gravity of Hamas murdering [about] 1,400 people, I feel like they would have the respect to not say a message like this.”
Guttman believes that the university has done a good job at supporting the Jewish Student Group through this time, with staff reaching out to Guttman and other Jewish students. Administrators worked with the rabbi to craft the email sent out on Oct. 10.
“In keeping with Cal Poly Humboldt’s commitment to maintaining the safety of our campus community, the University has a zero tolerance policy for acts of hate or discrimination against anyone, no matter who you are and where you come from,” said Associate Vice President of Student Success and Dean of Students, Mitch Mitchell. “The incident is an unfortunate reminder that world events often impact our students. We are fully committed to supporting them in any way we can and I want to encourage all students who may need additional support to use the resources that are available to them on campus.”
Despite repeated efforts to contact other members of the group, no other members would respond to requests for comment. However, Guttman said all other members of the club he’s talked to feel similarly disappointed, but appreciative of the community’s support.
“I’ve always been very active about my Judaism,” Guttman said. “I’m very vocal about it. And this is definitely not going to stop. If anything, it’s going to make me louder. You know, I’m still always going to wear my yarmulke. We’re still going to hold our Jewish events. We’re hoping to do a candlelight vigil within the next week or so. This is not going to [distract] us at all. We’re strong people. If anything, I’m hoping it’ll make us stronger.”