Contact: Nicole Rosen
AT THE REQUEST OF PARENTS, AMCHA DEVELOPS “SCORECARD” FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS VISITING UNIVERSITIES THIS FALL
Santa Cruz, CA, August 20, 2015 – As students head back to school and high school seniors begin to visit potential colleges, AMCHA Initiative today released a questionnaire for prospective parents and students to use when interviewing colleges and universities regarding the campus climate for Jewish students.
“Anti-Semitism on U.S. college campuses is growing at an alarming rate,” said AMCHA director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin. “Highly disturbing incidents are reported every year ranging from anti-Semitic graffiti to verbal harassment to physical assault. And many Jewish students report feeling unsafe on their campuses.”
A 2015 National Survey of U.S. Jewish College Students by Trinity College and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law revealed that 54% of surveyed students reported instances of anti-Semitism on campus during the first six months of the 2013-2014 academic year. The Antisemitism and the College Campus: Perceptions and Realities study released earlier this summer by Brandeis University found that three-quarters of North America Jewish college students were exposed to anti-Semitism and one-third of students surveyed report having been harassed. In addition, one-quarter of students in the Brandeis University study describe hostility toward Israel on campus as a “fairly” or “very big” problem and nearly one-quarter report having been blamed for Israel’s actions because they are Jewish.
“At the request of many parents over the past year, we have developed a questionnaire that will assist prospective students in assessing how safe or comfortable a school is for Jewish students,” said Rossman-Benjamin. “The questions will also serve as a reminder to school administrators that prospective Jewish students and their families are influenced in their decision-making by the level of anti-Semitic/anti-Israel activity on campus.”
Some of the questions include (a full list can be viewed here):
- Have you heard reports of students feeling the need to hide their Jewish identity (such as hide a Jewish star necklace) or feeling fear at attending Jewish events?
- Have any Jewish students reported acts of violence, verbal or physical harassment, threats, vandalism, discrimination, exclusion, etc., directed against them because of their Jewishness or support of Israel?
- Have there been reports of swastikas or other anti-Semitic graffiti drawn anywhere on campus? If yes, did the administration swiftly, forcefully and publicly acknowledge that a swastika is an anti-Semitic symbol associated with genocide perpetrated against the Jewish people which particularly targets the school’s Jewish members for hatred and discrimination, and that it will not be tolerated on campus?
- Was there a BDS campaign on campus, and if so, what was the result?
- Have there been any faculty members who were reported as bringing anti-Semitic and/or unbalanced, one-sided, anti-Israel content into the classroom?
- Are administrators, campus diversity officers and faculty members trained in identifying anti-Semitism?
- What support is available to students who encounter anti-Semitism?
“Since contemporary anti-Semitism has assumed various disguised forms and, as the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found, is often “camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism,” one of the most timely and important questions to get answered is: Will the university formally adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism to fully and accurately identify all future acts of hate toward Jews?,” stated Rossman-Benjamin.
AMCHA Initiative leads a coalition of 32 groups that has been working with the University of California (UC) to adopt the U.S. State Department definition, which acknowledges that anti-Israel rhetoric can cross the line into anti-Semitism. AMCHA also delivered petitions signed by nearly 700 UC professors, UC alumni and California rabbis to UC President Napolitano and the UC Regents urging adoption of the the U.S. State Department definition as the standard for identifying anti-Semitism.
AMCHA Initiative is a non-profit, grassroots-based, organization, dedicated to monitoring, investigating and combating anti-Semitism at institutions of higher education in America.