Jewish students fear grad disruptions, don’t feel safe on campus: poll

Anti-Israel protests on campuses have left a majority of Jewish students feeling less safe at school, with 40% saying they feel they must hide their Jewish identities, a new survey found.

Hillel International, a Jewish campus organization, polled 310 students across the country and found four in 10 admitted to hiding their Jewish identities on campus and 32% have been too afraid to attend religious events.

The poll found six in 10 say encampments, which started with Columbia University’s last month, have made it more difficult to learn, study or concentrate.

A majority of Jewish college students feel less safe because of anti-Israel protests and encampments at their schools and want their administrations to eliminate the possibility of disruptions at graduation, according to a new survey. Melissa Bender/NurPhoto/Shutterstock
Pro-Palestinian protesters burn Israeli and US flags during a “Day of Rage” demonstration on May 6, 2024. John Lamparski/Shutterstock

The tent cities led to mass arrests as students called on their administrations to divest funds from Israel.

Forty-two percent of students polled said they no longer have the same level of trust in their school’s faculty following the protests and 38% said they have effected their friendships.

And 15 percent even said they no longer want to return to their school next fall.

Jillian Lederman is a senior at Brown University and the outgoing chair of Hillel International’s Israel Leadership Network. Jeff Song
Campus encampments in support of Palestine have sprung up across the country and led to widespread arrests and disruptions.

“There is a lot of anxiety about disruptions to commencement, whether or not they will be tolerated and what the response to them will be,” said Jillian Lederman, a senior graduating from Brown University on May 26.

“I graduated high school on YouTube because of the pandemic and we’re now entering graduation season and a lot of the same anxieties about events being canceled and ceremonies being disrupted are cropping up again in a way that many of us didn’t anticipate,” Lederman, 21, told The Post.

A petition demanding university administrators do more to support students and safeguard graduation ceremonies has garnered over 32,000 signatures.

Forty percent of the students polled have felt the need to hide their Jewish identity from others on campus. James Keivom
Some Jewish students even reported not wanting to return to campus next fall. Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Columbia and the University of Southern California are among those that have cancelled their main ceremonies.

Lederman said Brown students are lucky events haven’t been cancelled and Jewish students haven’t been targeted with violence — but that it’s an “interesting” thing to have to be grateful for.

“I think that’s really a reflection of how terribly other schools have handled it,” she said.

Hillel has tracked nearly 1,600 incidents of campus antisemitism since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

“Jewish students, and all students, deserve to pursue their education and celebrate their graduations free from disruption, antisemitism, and hate,” said Adam Lehman, president and CEO of Hillel. 

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