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August 20, 2015 3:27 pm

Watchdog Develops Scorecard to Rank US Campuses on Safety for Jewish Students

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

University of Pennsylvania campus. Photo: wiki commons.

A new questionnaire is designed to help college applicants determine how safe campuses are for Jewish students. Photo: wiki commons.

A non-profit campus watchdog released on Thursday a questionnaire to help parents determine how safe campuses are for prospective Jewish university students.

The scorecard, compiled by AMCHA Initiative, is made up of 20 questions, and was designed for students and parents to use for assessing antisemitic and anti-Israel activity on a particular campus.

The questions include, “Was there a BDS campaign on campus, and if so, what was the result?” and “What is the response time of the administration when there is an antisemitic incident?”

AMCHA Initiative’s director Tammi Rossman-Benjamin said the scorecard was created in response to many requests from concerned Jewish parents over the past year. She said the survey should serve as a reminder to school administrators that the level of antisemitic and anti-Israel activity on campus influences Jewish students and their families in deciding on a school.

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She pointed out that “contemporary antisemitism has assumed various disguised forms,” and that the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights discovered that it is often “camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism.”

“One of the most timely and important questions to get answered is: ‘Will the university formally adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of antisemitism to fully and accurately identify all future acts of hate toward Jews?'” Rossman-Benjamin said.

“Antisemitism on U.S. college campuses is growing at an alarming rate,” she continued. “Highly disturbing incidents are reported every year ranging from antisemitic graffiti to verbal harassment to physical assault. And many Jewish students report feeling unsafe on their campuses.”

In a 2015 National Survey of U.S. Jewish College Students, 54 percent of those surveyed reported experiencing or witnessing antisemitism on campus during the first six months of the 2013-2014 school year.

A study entitled Antisemitism and the College Campus: Perceptions and Realities released earlier this summer by Brandeis University found that three-quarters of Jewish college students in North America have been the victims of antisemitic acts. One-quarter of students said hostility toward Israel on campus is a “fairly” or “very big” problem and nearly one-quarter reported having been blamed for Israel’s actions because they are Jewish.

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