Percent of college students witnessing antisemitism spikes since start of academic year: poll

The percentage of college students who have experienced or witnessed antisemitism has spiked since the start of the 2023-2024 academic year, according to a new poll by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and Hillel International.

The poll found that 73 percent of Jewish students and 44 percent of non-Jewish students have seen or experienced antisemitism since the start of the school year. Back in 2021, a survey showed only 32 percent of Jewish students directly experienced antisemitism while 31 percent of Jewish students saw antisemitism that wasn’t aimed towards them. 

The poll comes as antisemitism has been rising for some time, but advocates have raised greater alarm since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

The poll found that after the attack only 46 percent of Jewish students felt physically safe and 33 percent felt emotionally safe on campus. Before Oct. 7, 67 percent of Jewish students felt physically safe at college while 66 percent felt emotionally safe. 

“Jewish students are experiencing a wave of antisemitism unlike anything we’ve seen before, but shockingly, non-Jewish students barely see it,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of ADL. “Since the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel, Jewish students feel increasingly threatened on campus – but college leaders are not doing enough to address this very real fear of antisemitism.” 

Since the attack, campus administration has been under a microscope as two Congressional hearings have been held on the rise of antisemitism on campuses, with many lawmakers chastizing university officials for what they see as a lackluster response to the issue. 

The Department of Education has also opened up an investigation against seven schools for incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia.

Before the attack, 64 percent of Jewish students said their university was supportive of them, but that number dropped to 44 percent after Oct. 7. 

Students are also more afraid than before for others to know they are Jewish. Only 39 percent of Jewish students feel comfortable with others on campus knowing they are Jewish as compared to 64 percent feeling comfortable before the attack, according to the poll. 

“The data in this survey presents a disconcerting picture of the state of hate on campuses nationwide,” said Adam Lehman, president and CEO of Hillel International. “Widespread experiences with antisemitism, as reported in this survey, are driving Jewish students to hide their identities. This data reinforces the critical importance of Jewish spaces on campus, and of our mission at Hillel to build vibrant Jewish life.”

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