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Survey Finds ‘Openly Jewish’ Students Feel Unsafe on Campus

September 21, 2021

A new poll surveying members of the leading predominantly Jewish fraternity and sorority found that more than 65 percent of respondents have felt unsafe on campus due to anti-Semitic attacks, with one in 10 reporting they have feared physical assault because they are openly Jewish.

Additionally, nearly 70 percent of the students said they had personally experienced or "were familiar with" an act of anti-Semitism on campus or in a virtual campus setting in the past 120 days. As a result, about 50 percent said they have hidden their Jewish identities, and more than half have avoided expressing their views on Israel. More than 80 percent said they are supportive of Israel, and nearly 60 percent have visited the Jewish state.

The most common offenses students reported were derogatory statements about Jews -- including referring to them as "greedy," "cheap" or having other negative qualities -- and assigning to all Jews collective responsibility for Israel's actions. Conducted toward the end of the spring 2021 semester, the survey found that anti-Semitism remained widespread on campus and online even during the pandemic, and that many Jewish students felt their college experience was being undermined by anti-Semitism. The survey also noted that Jewish students' safety concerns increased with each academic year; while 17 percent of the first-year men surveyed said they "sometimes" felt unsafe as a Jew, 29 percent of seniors felt the same way. For the women, the numbers were 14 percent and 35 percent, respectively. In the past year, reports show harassment and attacks against Jewish students at an all-time high, with some advocates calling on university administrators to forcefully condemn anti-Semitism and work more aggressively to address and prevent it.

The poll, by Cohen Research Group in conjunction with the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, surveyed 1,027 members of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity and the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority. The poll is the first of its kind to examine rates of anti-Semitism among students who openly identify as Jewish on campus, organizers said. Of the students surveyed, more than 60 percent belonged to Hillel and nearly half to Chabad.

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