Watchdogs: Jewish students often target of hate, bias on U.S. college campuses
Multiple studies from leading watchdog groups show that Jewish
students are too often the targets of hate and bias on American college
campuses. Team 12 Investigates compiled an exclusive database to see how many
incidents occurred on campuses in the tri-state over the span of four years,
compared to how many were reported to the federal government.
Students say campus climate has made them question wearing Jewish
symbols in public.
“I'd be lying if I said I didn't think twice about
not wearing the Magen David,” says
Adela Cojab, an NYU graduate currently studying at the Cardozo School of Law.
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of
Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act requires universities to
annually disclose crime statistics, including hate crimes.
News 12's exclusive database includes
antisemitic incidents on campuses in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut
between 2017 and 2020. These events were documented by Jewish watchdog groups
like the Anti-Defamation League and Amcha Initiative. Examples include Zoom bombing, harassment,
threats and dozens of swastikas.
they're excluded from different groups on campus because they are supportive of
Israel. Sometimes it's more blatant than that, a 'Heil Hitler' salute,"
says Scott Richman, ADL regional director for New York and New Jersey.
"Sometimes, It's some sort of statement, like a derogatory remark."
Of 123 antisemitic incidents in the region, Team
12 Investigates found that 50 were documented in the Clery reports, or 40%.
Rutgers University, for example, saw at least 21 incidents in that span,
according to the ADL, but our team found that their Clery report reflected two hate
crimes for those years. Similarly with Princeton University, which had at least
seven occurrences, but none were documented as hate crimes in their
school with more discrimination is less appealing to a student,” says Cojab,
who is studying religious liberty and civil rights law.
The Clery Act only requires schools to report
hate crimes, which were found to have been motivated by hate towards a
protected group, whereas the watchdog groups include acts that, while certainly
offensive, don't necessarily rise to the level of a hate crime. Many university
administrators said that was why most of these incidents didn't make it into
their own reports. However, while some campuses, like Fordham University,
reported each event anyway, others reported none.
Over the span of our reporting, Team 12
Investigates reached out to these universities for an interview, but almost all
declined to speak with us. When News 12 asked about their Clery
reports, most universities sent us statements, explaining that the swastika or
alleged harassment was not found to be motivated by hate and did not meet the
requirements to be included in their crime statistics. Some avoided our direct
question, while a few never responded.
“Jews are, once again, becoming a
scapegoat for people who are angry about other things,” says Kenneth Marcus,
the founder of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law. His
team has been tracking campus climate for a recent survey.
The survey's results show that more than 65% of
openly Jewish college students have felt unsafe on campus. Half of the
respondents said they felt the need to hide their Jewish identity.
"I would say there has been steady
problem, steady decline over 20 years, and much worse, much worse over the last
few years. Especially over the last several months," says Marcus.
a pharmacy student at LIU Brooklyn, may proudly wear his kippah, but he
says that's not always the case for others.
“We have Jews
that remove their religious symbols like their kippah or their ring that has
Jewish lettering on it,” Nirenberg says.
This issue also
got the attention of the Anti-Defamation Leage, who conducted its own study,
which showed that one-third of Jewish students personally experienced
antisemitism on campus.
director Scott Richman says the problem doesn't stop there.
percent of them had not reported this to anybody. Now, that's a very
significant figure, if we don't know what's happening, we can't combat
it," he says.
every slur or swastika leaves their campus community traumatized. However, many
tell News 12 they feel optimistic because they see a new wave of students not
afraid to speak up about campus issues.
defiant and I won't hide my identity," says Alaiev, adding, "that
means I'm always looking over my shoulder.”
to browse through our full database of incidents and the responses from