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September 8, 2022 3:56 pm

New Grant Program to Support Fight Against Antisemitism on College Campuses

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Photo: Ad Meskens/Wikimedia Commons.

Grants to fight antisemitism on campus were announced today by the Academic Engagement Network (AEN), an independent pro-Israel campus group.

Yale University, City University of New York, Evergreen State College, and University of Minnesota each received¬† $25,000 participate in AEN’s Antisemitism Education Initiative, which will support educating students about Jewish history, as well as streamlining processes for responding to incidents of antisemitic bias and hate.

AEN Executive Director Miriam Elman said the grant will also help Jews studying and working on college campuses withstand increasingly common assaults on Jewish identity.

“Most university leaders, especially those tasked with advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) goals and initiatives, don’t yet have the expertise to address the lived experiences of Jewish students, faculty, and staff,” explained Elman.

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Elman also noted that Jewish students, faculty, and staff have had to “hide or disavow their Zionist identities and attachments in order to fit in and succeed” and urged university leaders to foster “inclusive learning and workplace environments.”

A primary challenge for universities is to identify antisemitism across the ideological spectrum, said Naomi Greenspan of AEN’s director of the Inclusive Campus Climate Initiative, which recently launched a series of Signature Seminars on ways to support Jewish students.

“While antisemitism emanating from the far right is relatively easy for campus administrators to identify and condemn, too often they are not aware of how historic antisemitic tropes play out in conversations about Israel, and how hostile rhetoric about Zionism can be perceived as an attack on Jewish identity,” she continued.

At Yale University, medical school deputy dean for diversity and inclusion Dr. Darin Latimore has pledged to play a major role in the initiative, biomedical imaging and radiology professor Evan D. Morris revealed, adding that “the need to fight antisemitism can be viewed through the lens of free speech.”

“Movements to boycott Israelis or Zionists are bald attempts to stifle Jewish voices,” he continued. “This is anathema to the free and civil exchange of ideas that is so essential to a healthy academy.”

Antisemitism on college campuses continues to garner national attention. Last month, CNN aired a documentary that highlighted the story of Cassie Blotner, a SUNY New Paltz student who was expelled from a sexual assault awareness group she founded because she openly embraces Israel and Zionism.

Last year, the the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) partnered with the Hillel campus organization to launch fast-track systems for responding to antisemitic incidents as they occur, tracking them in a centralized database.

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