DEI staffers at UVA shrug shoulders at prof who offered extra credit for attending anti-Israel event days after Oct. 7

Emails obtained by the Washington Examiner showed that UVA DEI staffers seemed to not think it serious that a professor encouraged students to go to an anti-Israel SJP event right after Hamas's Oct.7 massacre of Israeli civilians.

Several other colleges have offered extra credit for going to similar events in the past.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) officials at the University of Virginia seemed to downplay concerns about a professor encouraging students to go to an anti-Israel event days after the Oct. 7 massacre launched by Hamas, according to info obtained by the Washington Examiner

On Oct. 12, UVA professor Tessa Farmer wrote to students, appearing to offer extra credit for anyone who attended an anti-Israel event held by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), as reported by Fox News

Farmer wrote: “A few of you wanted more details about extra credit opportunities, so here are some updates and an event that a student asked me to pass along. Whenever I see an applicable event, I’ll send out out a notice. If you know of an event that relates to class conversations/theme, please let me know and I’ll pass it along. For the extra credit, you would attend an event … and then write a reflection of 250-words tying the event to course readings,” the Washington Examiner showed. She then went on to note a particular “event happening on Thursday.”

SJP advertised the event, which was titled “Decolonization is not a metaphor: Gaza and Palestinian Liberation,” writing: “Join us . . . for a teach in and demonstration about the current situation in Gaza, the events and history that led to this moment, and a discussion about how we can be in solidarity with Palestinians resisting occupation,” as seen on Instagram.

[RELATED: Ohio school arbitrarily stonewalled pro-Israel event, students say]

UVA’s SJP chapter claimed the Oct. 7 massacre was a “step towards a free Palestine,” according to Fox News

Farmer insisted that “[b]y posting the information provided by the organizers about the event that is happening today, I did not intend to imply that there is a link between endorsing the viewpoint of the organization and receiving extra credit for the course. In attending any event, I encourage you to critically engage with the content presented and to form your own opinion,” Fox News wrote. 

Farmer’s message came to the attention of several higher-ups in UVA, including several DEI officials, the Washington Examiner found. 

Rachel Spraker, a top DEI staffer, wrote to Keisha John, another DEI staffer, saying: “Let me know is there is [sic] something specific we can help with. In reading the information it does not appear the professor is offering extra credit for attending the event. The event was a separate announcement. Is that correct?” the Washington Examiner wrote. 

“That’s my read, but not the read of the person that sent the email,” John answered, as the Examiner related. 

This isn’t the only time that students were offered extra credit for attending anti-Israel events, as Campus Reform previously reported. 

[RELATED: Columbia launches investigation into Jewish prof who criticized school’s response to anti-Semitism]

Last October, the National SJP encouraged students to walk out of class to protest Israel, with one University of California Berkeley professor, Victoria Huynh, offering her students extra credit to participate in the nationwide event in order to protest “against the settler-colonial occupation of Gaza.”

Also last October, a graduate student at the University of California Los Angeles offered extra credit to her students for going to an “Emergency Teach-In on the Crisis in Palestine.”

When reached out to for comment, a UVA spokesperson told Campus Reform: “The complaint . . . was taken seriously by people throughout the University, including those on the email exchange reported, as evidenced by the fact that the concern was elevated to the leadership of the DEI office. The fuller context of the exchange also makes clear that Ms. Spraker’s comment was an expression of unfamiliarity with the reason why such an email would be shared with the Counsel’s office, and another more senior team member replied that it should be, and ultimately it was.”

The spokesperson also added: “University officials evaluated this episode and found that Professor Farmer offered students multiple opportunities to earn extra credit over the course of the semester through writing reflection pieces expressing their own opinions on events they choose to attend, including this one. They also found that her extra credit policy did not constitute an endorsement of this event or any other, and that, accordingly, such an approach was consistent with her academic freedom to conduct her course.” 

Campus Reform has reached out to Spraker and John for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.