LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Backlash is mounting for Michigan State University after an image of Adolf Hitler was shown on the video board at Spartan Stadium.
The picture of Hitler came on the video board before kickoff at Saturday’s football game against the University of Michigan.
One student who practices Judaism said he’s seen enough antisemitism elsewhere due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, but never thought he would see it at a place where he calls home.
“It just felt like our Jewish community was under attack in just another way,” MSU Junior Matthew Zivian said. “I was in the stadium when it happened. I must’ve been talking to a friend when it showed up on the video board.”
The video that showed the image appeared around an hour before kickoff. It was part of a third-party group not with the university, who said the school didn’t ask for permission to use the content. Meanwhile, MSU officials said staff did not view the entire video before letting it hit the screens.
“Michigan State Athletics is responsible for all content shown on its video boards. Before it was displayed, the video was not viewed in its entirety by anyone in athletics, exposing a failure in our process. The video was not part of a sponsorship and had no affiliation with any of our corporate partners or our community,” MSU Athletic Director Alan Haller said.
Regardless, it the image flashed long enough for attendees to notice.
“I got a couple of texts while I was at the game and some buzz started to spread around where I was sitting with friends,” Zivian said. “Obviously, with what’s been going on overseas, we’ve seen a rise in antisemitism both on college campuses around different cities, so it just felt like we were under attack again.”
Since then, Interim President Teresa Woodruff, the Board of Trustees, and Haller all released apologies to the community.
Haller added that he would personally reach out to Jewish community groups in the area and on campus to offer an apology, which Zivan said he followed through with.
“You know, we really appreciated the athletic director’s statement. We thought it was completely genuine. And he did an amazing job. He reached out to people in the Jewish community here, he followed up on what he said,” Zivian said. “Despite everything being thrown at us, we’re still a strong community. We still have each other’s backs, we still love one another and we’re still here to support.”
Haller also said that they have suspended an unnamed employee with pay who was involved in allowing the image to be shown. This is all pending an investigation that will help determine potential future action.