As colleges around the United States continue to issue weak responses to instances of overt anti-Semitism, some high school seniors are reconsidering where they might apply out of safety fears.
College counselors who cater to majority Jewish communities, and some who cater to majority Muslim communities say they’ve seen students – many in conversation with their families – shrink their list of potential school choices because of how campuses have responded to Hamas’ October 7 attack.
USA Today reported several such students are backing away from schools they were, at one point, interested in.
Josh Jury told the outlet he’d been excited about the prospect of attending George Washington University in Washington, DC. The school has an active Jewish community and international relations programs that were of interest.
But after a number of upsetting incidents on campus, including the words ‘Glory to the Martyrs’ being displayed prominently on the school’s library, Jury feels the school has not done enough to speak out against the growing wave of anti-Semitism.
A shocking image projected onto the library of George Washington University: ‘Glory to our martyrs’
Palestinian students take part in a protest in support of the Palestinians amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza, at Columbia University in New York City
Jury called the university’s response to the incidents ‘really disheartening.’
The school has released several perfunctory statements, but it is not clear that the students publicly supporting Hamas have faced consequences.
Instances of administrations failing to adequately respond to anti-Semitism on campus have been especially well documented on campuses experiencing the biggest displays on hatred toward their Jewish students.
Specific examples include: UCLA, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, Columbia, Cornell, NYU, Cooper Union, and Georgetown.
How college administrators chose and continue to handle the campus environment following the breakout of the war between Israel and radical Palestinian terrorists, is something families with kids in late high school are paying attention to.
Jewish students in particular are noting the lackluster response that’s come from administrations at many of the nation’s top colleges, where some of the most virulently anti-Semitic incidents have occurred.
One Jewish parent said: ‘We are totally switching it up,’ in terms of where her 16-year-old will consider attending. Previously the student had an eye on the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University – two schools where high-profile anti-Semitism has been on display lately.
Administrators at both schools are in the process of dealing with the tangible wave of anti-Semitism at their institutions, but parents and students alike were unimpressed with the schools’ initial response to the barbaric October 7 terror attack.
Janet Footlik, the mother of a high school senior in Illinois, said that her daughter added several colleges to her list, based on how those campuses handled anti-Semitism.
‘Safety and morality, which we assumed to be a basic right on every campus, became top items on her checklist,’ she said.
‘Not every school is meeting this need or demonstrating a concrete plan to deliver on it.’
The scourge of anti-Semitism around the US has become so prominent that the Department of Education felt compelled to issue a warning last week reminding schools that they legally must curb discrimination or risk losing their federal dollars.
Protesters encircle a man (with arms up), moving through the yard, holding up keffiyehs (scarfs) before he slips into a nearby building
MIT’s Coalition Against Apartheid students protest at the main entrance to the university, preventing Jewish students from using it last Thursday
Counter-protesters supporting Israel yell across at City University of New York (CUNY) students and other supporters of Palestine as they hold a rally in front of the Chancellor’s office in midtown Manhattan on November 02, 2023
A demonstrator holds a megaphone as students of American University attend a campus protest against ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza in Washington, D.C
Four college admissions counselors, whose students are Jewish, said the breakout of their war has impacted the perspective the students take when considering where to apply, and has become a source of anxiety for parents.
Naomi Steinberg, a private college counselor in Florida, told USA Today that there is ‘a reckoning going on with Jewish families and inside many of those institutions.’
One Jewish mother of twin high school seniors in Massachusetts, said her kids had abandoned applications to two colleges because they felt some departments at the schools were anti-Semitic beyond immediate redemption.
Referring to the family’s perspective on the college admissions process, she said there’s ‘been a tectonic shift.’
A guidance counselor at Pillars Preparatory Academy – an Islamic school in New Jersey – said Islamophobic insults have been hurled toward her and her students on college visits.
She has advised students to consider larger campuses in cities, as opposed to smaller, more remote ones.
Students from both sets of religious groups, depending on their level of practice, had a more limited choice of campuses to choose from even before Hamas’ attack.
Jewish students often assess access to kosher dining options, religious services, and accommodations for the scheduling commitments that come with the Jewish holidays.
Muslim students may look for single-sex dormitories, accessible prayer spaces, and a significant presence of other Muslim students.
Jewish students often assess access to kosher dining options, religious services, and accommodations for the scheduling commitments that come with the Jewish holidays
A woman shouts slogans as NYU (New York University) students participate in a walkout during a national day of action called by the ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’ at Washington Square park
Beyond the incident mentioned above at GWU, several elite campuses have seen disturbing displays of anti-Semitism since October 7.
Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel that day, killing 1,200 and sparking a war that is ongoing.
That also led to major protests at universities across the nation with some students backing Palestine and expressing support for Hamas.
At Harvard and Penn, major donors have pulled funding from the schools because of their lackluster response to the terror attack, in addition to their inability to effectively deal with student groups who support Hamas.
At Cornell, a student was arrested two weeks ago for issuing graphic threats about killing Jews on campus and shooting up the kosher dining hall.
At Columbia, a Jewish student was assaulted; at Cooper Union, Jewish students were forced to hide in a library as anti-Israel protestors surrounded them; and at MIT, Jewish students were told not to walk through the school’s main entrance hall last week when anti-Israel demonstrators staged a protest.