National News

UConn student speaks out after being the target of anti-Semitic comment

Posted September 13

— Thousands of people have reached out to show support for a University of Connecticut student who said he was the target of an anti-Semitic comment on campus.

Nathan Schachter spoke to Eyewitness News on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old said he is heavily involved in his Jewish faith on the Storrs campus and never expected something like that to happen.

He said he was on his way to dinner at Tower's Dining Hall when someone shouted at him from a car.

"Once I realized that it's because I'm wearing a kippah, it's because I'm Jewish," Schachter said. "I had a lot of emotion, upset, confusion, anger, sadness."

Schachter said he commonly wears his UConn embroidered kippah to show he's proud of his religion.

He grew up in a big Jewish community in West Hartford and said with a smaller Jewish population at the school, it's nice to find other people who practice Judaism.

Between classes, he can usually be found at the UConn Hillel, a Jewish community center on campus.

That's where he was before someone yelled at him out of their window. He paraphrased it without the obscenities for Channel 3.

"So I was being driven up by a staff member from Hillel and we got out of the car over here in the loop of the parking lot so I could walk up to the dining hall, it's a one way road," Schachter said. "And once I got out of the car to turn my back to start walking another car came through the loop and through the back window, a girl yelled 'go to the ovens.'"

Schachter said it was a white SUV with about three or four people inside.

"I knew that I had two options to either sit back and silence myself and just let it get to me or just move on and be the bigger person and speak out about these kind of incidents and raise awareness about them," he said.

He said he knew he had to do something.

"I knew that I wanted to let at least my family and friends know what had happened," Schachter said.

So he posted to UConn's "Buy or Sell Tickets" Facebook page.

"The minute that I posted it, I realized that this was going to be something bigger," he said.

The post generated more than 1,000 likes, 240 shares and more than 170 comments.

What stood out to Schachter, however, was that the comment was made the day after UConn had a vigil for the events that unfolded in Charlottesville to stand against discrimination.

"I think it's important for people to realize that it's not just these bigger events, it's not just Charlottesville," he said. "That it happens and it can happen right here in Connecticut, in Storrs at UConn."

UConn police said they are investigating.

A UConn spokesperson said if whomever made the comment is a student, it could result in that student being expelled.

UConn said it was working with the Hillel Center to offer support services to students and there will be academic discussions in classes and cultural centers on campus.

"You know [it's] frustrating that this type of bigotry and racism exists today," said Scott Selig, UConn Hillel. "I really think that the support that Nathan has garnered has really showed that there is much more good in the world than evil."

Schachter said he hopes to go into nonprofit management for a Jewish organization once he is done with school. For now, he has another mission.

"It's important that we continue to create an environment where things like this don't happen by raising awareness so no other student, no other person has to endure what I did that day," he said.

UConn police said they are still looking for the suspect.

In the meantime, counseling and services are being offered to anyone who may feel that they were affected.

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