UGA Homecoming Alienates Jewish Students

UGA Homecoming Alienates Jewish Students

David R. Cohen

David R. Cohen is the former Associate Editor of the Atlanta Jewish Times. He is originally from Marietta, GA and studied Journalism at the University of Tennessee.

By David Cohen

On Saturday, The University of Georgia played Vanderbilt in Football as part of UGA’s Homecoming weekend. The Bulldogs cruised past an unprepared Commodores team, 44-7.

Not in attendance?

Hundreds of Jewish Students observing the Jewish Holiday of Yom Kippur. The game kicked off at 4 p.m., several hours before the end of the holiday, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.

This scheduling oversight by the UGA administration was protested by university students in the weeks prior to the game. More than 2,000 students signed a petition in protest of the homecoming game’s schedule. Several students also drafted a letter to President Jere Morehead addressing their concerns.

“We are simply here to ask how a major public university with a strong Jewish community could make this mistake,” the letter read. “We commit ourselves to this University and we would have hoped that you would commit yourselves to us. We pay tuition and pay for football tickets. Yet, by scheduling homecoming on Yom Kippur, you disregard and disrespect the Jewish population on campus.”

Co-author of the letter and UGA Senior, Nicole Gillman said the purpose of the document was to spread awareness.

“The main idea of it was to make (the administration) aware that it was Yom Kippur, because they kind of just made (the date of) the homecoming game and they didn’t really acknowledge that it was one of our holiest days,” said Gillman.

Gillman went on to say that since Yom Kippur is largely a day of prayer and a time to be with one’s family, she and many of her friends would not attend the game Saturday. The Homecoming game has been held in November the past 2 years.

Senior journalism major and another co-author of the letter, Tyler Andrews says UGA could have done a better job scheduling the game as there is a large Jewish population on Campus. The UGA Hillel estimates that Georgia has around 2,000 Jewish students accounting for about 5% of the overall campus population.

“Enough of them should have known that it fell on the same day,” he said.

Vice president for public affairs, Tom Jackson said that homecoming games traditionally take place in October against an SEC opponent.

“Frankly, we tried in the past and will continue to try to strive to remain aware and sensitive to important days on the calendar,” Jackson said. “In the future, we’ll certainly consider the option of scheduling homecoming earlier in September or later in November as necessary to take appropriate regard for students’ religious tenets, which we of course hold with deep respect.”

Jackson went on to say that in the past athletic events have been hosted on other religious holidays including Easter and Ramadan.

Georgia’s lone Jewish player, a 2013 graduate of Walton High School, Brandon Kublanow suited up and played for the Bulldogs on Saturday. Even so, the letter and accompanying petition put together by Tyler Andrews, Nicole Gillman, Rachel Goldberg and Jamie Gottlieb helped to raise awareness of Yom Kippur and The University was made aware of their scheduling conflict.

“If you are a university based around promoting diversity, then let diversity ring as loudly as the Chapel Bell.” Reads the letter, “If you are a university that promotes acceptance, then welcome all groups with open arms. If you are a university that respects the Georgia community, then stand for all voices on campus.


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