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America’s elite universities failing Jewish students, per ADL report

“School leadership must make serious changes to support Jewish communities,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, speaks at its "Never Is Now" conference, held in New York on March 6-7, 2024. Credit: ADL.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, speaks at its "Never Is Now" conference, held in New York on March 6-7, 2024. Credit: ADL.

America’s elite universities are failing to address Jew-hatred on campus, according to a new tracker released by the Anti-Defamation League on Thursday.

The ADL’s Campus Antisemitism Report Card awarded nine of America’s 10 top-ranked universities an “F” or “D” grade, including failing marks for Harvard University, Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Duke University was the lone top-10 school to earn a respectable “B” for “better than most.”

Many of America’s best universities are not doing enough for their Jewish students, said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national president of the ADL.

“Every campus should get an ‘A.’ That’s not grade inflation. That’s the minimum that every group on every campus expects,” Greenblatt stated. “Like all students, Jewish students deserve to feel safe and supported on campus. They deserve a learning environment free from antisemitism and hate, but that hasn’t been the experience with antisemitism running rampant on campus since even before Oct. 7.”

The ADL selected the 85 public and private schools to rank both from Hillel International’s list of campuses with the highest percentages of Jewish students and from the top-ranked schools in U.S. News & World Report.

It then assessed the universities by reviewing administrative policies on antisemitism; cataloging antisemitic and anti-Zionist activity; and measuring the extent to which they foster Jewish life on campus.

The nonprofit then surveyed 160 Jewish college students about how they would weigh criteria, including whether or not the college offered kosher dining options or had taken an official position against the BDS movement to boycott Israel. The ADL gave the colleges a chance to respond both pre- and post-assessment.

Only two of the 85 schools graded got an “A”: Waltham, Mass.-based Brandeis University and Elon University, in North Carolina. A dozen schools received an “F.”

University of California, Berkeley
Anti-Israel protesters at the University of California, Berkeley, bang on glass doors before eventually breaking them on Feb. 26, 2024. Source: NBC Bay Area/YouTube.

‘Agonizing over where they will send their kids’

Greenblatt hopes that prospective students and their families will use the report card as a tool for deciding where to apply.

“As I travel the country, I’m constantly hearing from Jewish families agonizing over where they will send their kids to college,” Greenblatt said. “School leadership must make serious changes to support Jewish communities on their campus. We expect nothing less.”

Jew-hatred on U.S. college campuses has been in the spotlight since the Hamas terrorist attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7. In the aftermath, anti-Israel and antisemitic professors and students celebrated the massacre of 1,200 people; threatened Jewish students; vandalized posters of Israeli hostages; spread antisemitic images; and disrupted campus life, including with violent demonstrations.

The ADL’s report card details many of the worst such incidents on college campuses, such as at Columbia University.

“Following the Oct. 7 massacre, Columbia’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter led protests on campus that have supported violence against Israel, including one where the group expressed it was ‘in full solidarity’ with Hamas’s ‘resistance,’” per the report card

“Over 100 Columbia faculty members subsequently signed on to a letter supporting student groups like SJP and defending Hamas’s attack as ‘just one salvo in an ongoing war between an occupying state and the people it occupies, or as an occupied people exercising a right to resist,’” it added. (Columbia has since suspended the SJP chapter.)

The spree of antisemitic and anti-Israel activities on campuses has prompted federal civil-rights investigations, as well as lawsuits and congressional hearings

At a December hearing of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on campus antisemitism after Oct. 7, the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania prevaricated on whether calling for the genocide of Jews would violate their codes of conduct. All three said it would depend on whether the speech constituted harassment or bullying.

Liz Magill resigned days later as Penn president, while Harvard president Claudine Gay stepped down after she was further accused of plagiarizing much of her academic writing.

Some university administrators have attempted to defend the activities of anti-Israel groups, like Students for Justice in Palestine, on free speech or First Amendment grounds. But many of the universities that ranked worst in the ADL report have also fared poorly on independent rankings of campus free speech. 

In the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression’s 2024 free speech rankings, Harvard and Penn scored last and second-to-last, respectively, on their openness to free speech.

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