Most US universities fail antisemitism test

Only two institutions get an ‘A’ grade from Anti-Defamation League survey


Dr. Claudine Gay, President of Harvard University, Liz Magill, President of University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Sally Kornbluth, President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, testify before the House Education and Workforce Committee December 05, 2023 in Washington, DC (Getty Images).

Only two universities in the United States received an “A” on the first-ever “Campus Antisemitism College Report Card,” from the Anti-Defamation League.

The report looked at how 85 colleges and universities nationwide are dealing with incidents of antisemitism, procedures to combat antisemitism and the vibrancy of Jewish life on campus. The schools chosen reflect the top schools, both public and private, as well as those with a high percentage of Jewish students.

According to the survey, many institutions are failing or close to failing their Jewish population as 24 received a “D” and 13 got an “F”, while 24 received a “C.”

Only 17 were graded with a “B,” while Elon University in North Carolina and Brandeis University in Massachusetts received an “A.”

“Every campus should get an A,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, “that’s not grade inflation, that’s the minimum that every group on every campus expects. Like all students, Jewish students deserve to feel safe and supported on campus. They deserve a learning environment free from antisemitism and hate.”

Among the failing schools listed by the report are Harvard University, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Michigan State University, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Princeton University and University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Leaders from both Harvard and MIT – along with the University of Pennsylvania, which the ADL gave a “D” rating – were taken to task after appearing in front of US congressional committee and failing to state that calling for the genocide of Jews was an actionable offence on their campuses.

Speaking on behalf of several Jewish fraternities on college campuses, Bonnie Wunsch, executive director of Alpha Epsilon Phi said, “We welcome ADL’s new Campus Report Card to assess the state of antisemitism on campus and policies to combat it. This tool provides critical information to answer the questions we are regularly fielding from students and their families. Not only is the moment for this now, but ADL is the right organisation to do it.”

Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO StandWithUs, an international nonpartisan education organisation that supports Israel and fights antisemitism, said the report echoes what they are hearing from college students as well.

“The ADL Report comes as no surprise as StandWithUs student leaders across the country have been enduring the impact of antisemitic student groups and faculty who have created environments where students do not feel safe on far too many campuses,” Rothstein told the JC. “Worse still, administrations have not enforced their own campus policies intended to address these very issues.

“Anti-Jewish bigotry has been prevalent long before October 7, and since the massacre in Israel has risen to unprecedented levels as antisemites have felt emboldened. SWU has been working with students and faculty to file numerous Title VI complaints and other legal actions,” she continued. “We are grateful to universities such as Pomona College and Indiana University that have taken the proper steps to improve the environment for all their students, including their Jewish community, and hope others will follow their lead.”

Both Pomona and Indiana scored poorly on the ADL report card, but Rothstein says recent arrests of disruptive protesters at both are indicators that they are making necessary improvements.

The findings could not come at a more fortuitous time as high school students need to declare where they will be enrolling in the fall 2024 in the coming weeks. How schools handle antisemitism is likely to factor into that decision for Jewish students as a Hillel International survey released last week noted that 64 per cent of parents said their high school-aged children ruled out going to certain schools because of antisemitism.

According to Hillel International, since the October 7 terror attacks on Israel, more than 1,200 incidents of antisemitism have been recorded on college campuses in the United States. That is an increase of over 700 per cent from the previous year.

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