Almost a third -- 32 percent -- of Jewish college students said they personally experienced anti-Semitism directed at them on campus or by a member of their college community within the last year, according to a new survey from Hillel International and the Anti-Defamation League.
Most commonly, respondents reported personally experiencing offensive comments online (19 percent) or in person (13 percent). One percent of respondents reported experiencing a physical threat, and 1 percent reported experiencing a physical attack.
Additionally, 31 percent of Jewish students reported witnessing anti-Semitic activity on campus that was not directed to them. Most commonly, 18 percent of respondents said they’d witnessed anti-Semitic symbols, logos or posters, with many saying they witnessed swastikas drawn on campus. Some students reported instances of vandalism against Jewish fraternities, sororities or cultural centers.
“Taken together, 43 percent of Jewish college students experienced and/or witnessed antisemitic activity in the last year,” a report on the survey findings says. “We asked them to describe those occurrences and created the following word cloud to highlight their responses. Outside of Jews and Jewish, the most common words in the descriptions of antisemitic experiences include ‘Israel’ ‘Nazi,’ ‘swastikas,’ and ‘jokes.’ Additionally, the prominence of the words ‘online’ and ‘social media’ reinforce the finding that many Jewish students experience antisemitism online.”
The majority of survey respondents reported feeling safe and welcomed on campus: 70 percent reported feeling safe on campus as a Jewish person, and 67 percent said their campus was welcoming and supportive of Jewish students. However, among students who reported experiencing anti-Semitism, only 51 percent said they felt safe, and 50 percent said their campus was welcoming and supportive.
The online survey was conducted by the survey company College Pulse on behalf of Hillel and the Anti-Defamation League. (College Pulse also works with Inside Higher Ed.) The sample included 756 undergraduate students who identify as Jewish from 220 different four-year colleges across the U.S. and was drawn from College Pulse’s Undergraduate Student Panel, which includes more than 400,000 students from more than 1,000 U.S. colleges.