SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — As tensions in Israel continue to mount, Congressman Brandon Williams (NY-22) held a press conference on Sunday, Nov. 12, at Upstate University Hospital calling for an end to the rise of antisemitism locally.

Williams said physicians, faculty and medical students at the hospital are being targeted for their Jewish heritage and identity.

The Congressman also criticized SUNY Upstate, saying there is a climate of fear and retribution against Jewish people, and the University is “failing to live up to its own values to provide a safe environment.”

“Let me be clear, no one should be afraid to go to school. Yet, that’s exactly what’s happening at SUNY Upstate. SUNY Upstate has allowed some form of bigotry, specifically antisemitism, to thrive. And yet, they often go after minor infractions of bigotry expressed by others in the community. Why do they have this selective enforcement against bigotry?” Williams said.

SUNY Upstate Medical University issued the following statement following Williams’ remarks:

Upstate unequivocally denounces antisemitism in any form.

Although Upstate Medical University leaders were not invited to this meeting, Upstate welcomes Congressman Williams’ discussions and will continue to engage with all members of the campus community.

And Upstate has consistently taken steps to provide a safe place of learning and healing:

  • Upstate established a faculty committee to address issues of antisemitism in August this year;
  • Recently increased University police patrols; maintained ongoing contact with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies; and, is surveying communications for the improper use of abusive language, violence and intimidation specifically directed toward any member of the Upstate community; 
  • Is prioritizing any complaint of a threat of violence andor harassment it receives to the University Police Department and the Office of Institutional Equity for appropriate review, investigation and follow up. To date and to Upstate’s knowledge, no threat of harassment or violence has been specifically directed towards a member or group of the Upstate community;
  • Held numerous discussions with students, faculty and staff who have expressed any concern regarding antisemitism;
  • Reminded students, faculty and employees of the numerous University resources available to any Upstate community member experiencing anxiety and needing support for a variety of issues

Finally, as expressed in a recent letter to the University community, leadership reminded the community that when an event is held by a student or faculty group on our campus, it does not mean that Upstate agrees with or endorses the views expressed during the event or the people featured during the event. Rather, it means that Upstate respects its obligations under the law as a public university subject to the requirements of the First Amendment. However, in doing so, Upstate will also vigorously enforce violations of SUNY policies, Upstate’s Code of Conduct and policies, and for speech that goes beyond the limits of the First Amendment to provide for a safe environment for all.