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April 4, 2017 11:58 am

Columbia, Vassar Among US Universities With Highest Incidence of Antisemitic Activity, New Report Claims

avatar by Rachel Frommer

A student’s apartment door, branded with a swastika. Photo: Facebook.

New York’s Columbia University experienced the highest overall antisemitic activity last year among more than 100 US schools studied, a report released Tuesday by a campus watchdog group revealed.

According to the AMCHA Initiative’s second annual report, Columbia also had the largest increase in such episodes, with 29 more incidents in 2016 than in the previous year. Vassar College came in at a close second, according to the report. In total, the campuses studied experienced a 40 percent spike in antisemitic behavior, with 433 episodes recorded last year by AMCHA.

“Jewish students are bearing the brunt of vast and profound campus intolerance,” lead researcher and AMCHA founder Tammi Rossman-Benjamin told The Algemeiner. “Jews are being targeted at heightened levels, but this has to be understood in the context of a more general problem. If administrators could understand and correctly frame the issue of antisemitism as one example of a culture of campus intolerance, they could respond to it better, and help all students — Jewish and non-Jewish — have a healthier university climate for free speech.”

Rossman-Benjamin added that she is particularly “frightened” by another finding in the report.

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“Homicidal expression — condoning or calling for the murder of Jews, using language and imagery linked with the Holocaust — is rising at a troubling rate,” she said. “By what we are seeing in the first quarter of 2017, this year will be even worse. Compared with this time in 2016, we’ve already documented a huge uptick in such incidents, especially in the appearance of swastikas.”

According to AMCHA, there was a small decrease in the total number of schools at which all antisemitic episodes occurred, with heightened activity concentrated on select campuses, including New York University, University of Chicago, University of Wisconsin Madison, University of Minnesota and Ohio State University.

California universities — including the University of California (UC) system, the University of Southern California and the Claremont Colleges — were listed by AMCHA as among the top 15 schools with the highest incidence of overall antisemitic activity, targeting of Jews, antisemitic expression and BDS activity. Chicago-area schools featured prominently, as well, based on those four markers.

The report also offers universities six recommendations to reduce intolerance, including reviewing, updating and enforcing policies to ensuring free speech and equal rights on campus, and employing “appropriate disciplinary measures” when those rights are violated.

A Columbia spokesperson told The Algemeiner, “Jewish life and learning is flourishing at Columbia as it has been for decades. This report falsely suggests otherwise by citing allegations of antisemitism such as an op-ed in Columbia College’s student newspaper critical of the Israeli government’s policies. Columbia remains committed to freedom of speech, respectful of all members of our diverse community, and vigilant in condemning antisemitism.”

Many of AMCHA’s top offenders appeared on The Algemeiner‘s list of the “worst” campuses for Jewish students in 2016.

AMCHA’s report comes nearly a month after an American higher-education-reform group labeled BDS “one of the greatest threats to academic freedom in the United States today.”

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