To Daniel Diermeier, Candice Storey Lee, and the Vanderbilt Administration-at-Large:
Hatred has no home at Vanderbilt.
A university official who publicly expresses antisemitic beliefs cannot continue to hold a position in which he has power over others. Coach Dan Jackson should resign from his role, and the university should publicly acknowledge that his statements were antisemitic and unacceptable.
On Friday November 4, the same day that the FBI warned of a credible threat to synagogues in New Jersey, a member of our own Vanderbilt community - Assistant Coach Dan Jackson - waded in on the recent controversy regarding Kanye West. In his statement, he expressed that Kanye is "two steps ahead of everyone," that his opinions on Jewish people are being criticized because it is not the same as the media’s, and that "more people need to wake up and speak their mind." The Assistant Coach’s language has struck at the core of our values.
The Vanderbilt administration’s response has lacked clarity thus far. Following his remarks, Jackson was permitted to coach in the game against South Carolina; accompanied only by a meager apology in which he acknowledged the "carelessness" of his words. Coach Jackson’s words were not merely careless, they were hateful and antisemitic. While the Vanderbilt Hustler reported that the administration reached out to Jewish community leaders, no members of the central administration has reached out to us in any meaningful way.
This has been a deeply concerning weekend. We’ve been troubled by a disturbing trend in our communities. That more and more antisemitism is normalized, that violence against Jewish people is getting more common, and that now, the place we’ve come to view as our home no longer seems to be a place that we can feel truly safe. The call is coming from inside the house.
Coach Jackson’s comments are antisemitic and dehumanizing, and they are not befitting the dignity of this institution. Vanderbilt cannot allow someone who publicly expresses antisemitic views to hold power over others. We wish the best for Coach Jackson and that he shows a capacity to change, but it is not the obligation of Jewish students to tolerate bigotry, and so he cannot continue to be associated with this university. Hatred has no home at Vanderbilt.
We appreciate that the administration condemns antisemitism and has issued a strong statement supporting its Jewish students. But we are disappointed that Chancellor Diermeier has not gone further by condemning Coach Jackson’s statements and explicitly acknowledging that they were antisemitic and antithetical to our community values. And we’re confused that there was no communication with us up until now - the administration left us to wonder if they would even bother to make a statement. You shouldn’t need a weekend to think over whether antisemitism is acceptable.
If you want to talk, we’ll be here.
עַם יִשְׂרָאֵל חַי
Jesser Horowitz, President of the Jewish Law Students Association
Joshua Stotzky, Vice-President of the Jewish Law Students Association
Nicolas Lipcon, Secretary of the Jewish Law Students Association
David Friedman, Treasurer of the Jewish Law Students Association
Harrison Halberg, Member of the Jewish Law Students Association
Josh Dahan, Member of the Jewish Law Students Association
Juliana Strobing, Member of the Jewish Law Students Association
Benjamin H. Dias, 1 L Representative of the Jewish Law Students Association
Bobby J. Kohan, 1L Representative of the Jewish Law Students Association
Alex Tritell, Member of the Jewish Law Students Association
Sophia Schein, Member of the Jewish Law Students Association
The following individuals and organizations have signed on in support of this message and the Jewish community. We call upon the administration to better support Jewish students, and to forcefully and publicly oppose antisemitism and bigotry in all its forms.
Law Students for Social Justice (LSSJ)
Asian American Pacific Law Students Association (APALSA)
Joey Vettiankal, President of the American Constitution Society
Jacob Brandes, VLS Student
Jack Polucha, 1L Rep for ACS
Grayson Sumpter, DEI Director of the American Constitution Society
Grace Su, President of Law Students for Social Justice, Co-President of APALSA, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for the VLS Ambassadors, Director of Social Engagement of the American Constitution Society
Cindy Gao, 1L Rep of WLSA and APALSA, ONEelevate member
Raghav Gupta, President of SALSA
Rafaela Valderrama, eboard La Alianza and Immigration Law Society
Bri Seaberg, VLS Student
Timoteo J. L’Esperance, VP of the American Constitution Society
Matt Moore, 1L Rep of Legal Aid Society and the American Constitution Society, ONEelevate member
Mary Basso, President of OutLaw, President of If/When/How Vanderbilt Law School OutLaw, Executive Board
Cassandra Nelson, 1L Representative of Law Students for Social Justice
Ashley Good, 1L Representative for Law Students for Social Justice and the American Constitution Society
Alexander Stanham, 1L Rep of La Alianza
Sanika Nanda, VP of South Asian Law Student Association and EDI Representative
William Black, President of OWLS, 1L Rep for ACS and ILS
Yuanzhi (Mark) Fengjiang, 1L Rep of Law Students for Social Justice and APALSA
Jill Boggs, President of International Law Society
Hunter Berry, Vice President of Admitted Students for VLS Ambassadors and Secretary for the Space Law Society
Samantha Paradela, President of La Alianza
Carrigan English, President of Ambassadors, President of Opening Statements
Michael Bennett, President of Voting Rights & Advocacy Society
Taylor Lawing, President of Women Law Students’ Association
Christine Dorsey, Philanthropy Coordinator of Women Law Students’ Association
Eliza Jaen, Treasurer of Women Law Students’ Association, University Representative of the Investment and Securities Law Club
Caro McGuffee, 1L Rep for Women Law Students’ Association, ONElevate member
Thayer Walmsley, President of Vanderbilt Intellectual Property Association
Mackenzi Barrett, VLS Student
Sam Newmier, Treasurer of Phi Delta Phi
Madeline Knight, Vice President of If/When/How, Vice President of OutLaw, Secretary of Vanderbilt Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Council
Qiaomin Yang, 1L Rep for APALSA, 1L Rep for International Law Society
Leah Field, President of the Immigration Law Society
Stephanie Nakash, VLS Student
Hunter Litterio, VLS Student
Joshua Lehde, Treasurer of ACS
Sam Carey, President of Space Law Society
Connor Rasmussen, Director of Professional Development for ACS
John Churchwell, VP of VLS EDI Council
Kailey Baker, VP of Opening Statements and EDI Council Representative
Janna Perry, President of the VLS Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Council
Karalyn Berman, Co-Executive Director of Legal Aid Society
Abrianna Harris, 1L Rep for If/When/How
Divya Bhat, VLS Student
Morgan Hess, associate justice of the Moot Court Board
Regina Maze, Editor-in-Chief of the Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law
Toni Cross, President of BLSA
Justin Brooks, VLS Student
Jane Dimnwaobi, Political Action Chair, BLSA
Evan Donaldson, President of Mock Trial Board