New Report Highlights Pervasive Antisemitism Threat on U.S. College Campuses

A swastika spray-painted outside a Jewish fraternity house in California.

August 31, 2021

Nearly half of American Jewish college students and recent graduates said they or someone they know have been threatened physically for being Jewish, according to a newly-released Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF) survey.

The report — “A Growing Threat: Antisemitism on College Campuses” — is based on the results of a poll of 506 Jewish college students and recent graduates across the U.S. taken between March 25-June 14 earlier this year.

An overwhelming 95 percent of respondents said antisemitism was a problem on their campuses, and nearly eight in ten had either experienced or heard firsthand about a fellow student making offensive or threatening antisemitic comments in person.

Some 69% of respondents said they had avoided certain places, events, or situations at school because they were Jewish, and 62% of students said they were the target of an antisemitic incident they had not reported.

“These alarming statistics indicate that university administration, students, and alumni can and must take steps to combat a rising tide of hatred,” an ACF statement said.

The report also includes 137 anonymous written descriptions of personal experiences with campus antisemitism.

One 26-year-old male graduate of a southeastern university wrote, “I’ve had pennies thrown at me by people saying ‘you gonna pick that up Jew?”

A 20-year-old female respondent who currently studies at a midwestern institution recalled, “I was having a conversation with a guy in my dorm and when I mentioned I was Jewish he made a joke about gassing me and when I explained that it was hurtful and not funny he spit on me.”

A 28-year-old midwestern graduate stated, “I was an RA [resident advisor] for residence life. Someone carved a swastika into my door… The person responsible was never caught.”

A 19-year-old student at a private northeastern school said, “I was called a k**e b***h and threatened physically.”

A 25-year-old female graduate of a northeastern college wrote, “Professor was incredibly anti-Semitic (Jews did 9/11; Jews own the media etc). Friend and I filed a 30 page report (and met with) multiple deans on his anti-Semitism. We received a 1.5 page letter stating that we misconstrued his comments and he did nothing wrong. Then they offered him tenure.”

And a 22-year-old midwestern female student said, “I often have to hide being Jewish to fit in and so my professors can like me.”

ACF Executive Director Avi Gordon told DailyMail.com, “We’ve had anecdotal evidence of what’s been going on, but no hard data to show the reality on the ground for undergraduates and recent alumni. We wanted to be able to quantify that and understand what current students are really thinking about the campus climate.”

“The survey results are shocking but it’s confirmation of these anecdotal experiences that we’ve heard from students on a regular basis,” Gordon noted. “It’s upsetting, it’s unacceptable, and it shows how important our work is trying to stem the tide and have university administrations understand this is an issue that needs to be taken seriously and needs to be addressed directly.”

“Having students’ voices heard is so important,” he added. “I think many feel marginalized on campus right now.”

The full Alums for Campus Fairness report can be downloaded here.

For more information about Alums for Campus Fairness, visit: campusfairness.org