The Rise of Antisemitism Across US University Campuses Features
Kefr4000, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Rise of Antisemitism Across US University Campuses

This week, Hillel International, the largest Jewish campus organization in the U.S. and the world, conducted a study of 300 Jewish college students. That study found that more than four out of every five Jewish students (84%) say the situation in Israel and Gaza is affecting them. Two out of every three Jewish students (68%) are sad. Over half of Jewish students (54%) are scared. More than one in three Jewish students (37%) say they have needed to hide their Jewish identity. Around one in three Jewish students (35%) say there have been acts of hate or violence on campus against Jews.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a non-governmental organization that specializes in antisemitism and extremism, has documented antisemitic incidents. In the one-month period between Oct. 7 and Nov. 7, 2023, the ADL reported 832 antisemitic incidents of assault, vandalism and harassment across the U.S., an average of nearly 28 incidents a day. This represents a 316 percent increase from the 200 incidents reported during the same period in 2022. 124 of the incidents took place on college campuses since Oct. 7, compared to only 12 incidents over the same time period last year.

At Cornell, a student was arrested last month after posting threatening statements against Jewish people. Some Jewish students at Cooper Union believe the school failed to protect them during a pro-Palestine demonstration that left Jewish students sheltering in a campus library. At MIT, a student group protest aimed to block the mouth of MIT’s main entrance, preventing Jewish students from going to class. Graffiti at Boston University’s Hillel is being investigated as possible hate crime. The Jewish fraternity house at the Georgia Institute of Technology was vandalized. At Wellesley, some dorm advisers sent an email to residents saying “there should be no space, no consideration, and no support for Zionism.” Antisemitic messages were projected onto several University of Pennsylvania campus buildings. Nazi swastika symbols have been found at Stanford University. Harvard faces threat of donation withdrawal from over 1,600 Jewish alumni over antisemitism concerns on campus. Antisemitic messages were posted online threatening violence at UC Berkeley.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means held a Hearing on Investigating the Nexus Between Antisemitism, Tax-Exempt Universities, and Terror Financing. At the hearing, Talia Dror, a junior at Cornell University, stated, “[M]y community is terrified to walk around the school they pay to attend because they are afraid of getting threatened, assaulted, or killed.”

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is currently investigating five educational institutions for possible violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 due to antisemitic harassment. The Justice Department has published an updated hate crimes threat response guide to inform individuals about the steps they can take if they receive a threat. Additionally, Hillel International, ADL, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP have established the Campus Antisemitism Legal Line (CALL), a free legal protection helpline for students who have experienced antisemitism.