Fifty colleges and universities across the U.S. now participating in Hillel International’s landmark Campus Climate Initiative to promote inclusion for Jewish students
As antisemitism increases across the United States, Hillel International, the world’s largest Jewish student organization, announced the expansion of its groundbreaking Campus Climate Initiative (CCI), a comprehensive program aimed at ensuring Jewish students feel comfortable expressing their diverse identities free of antisemitism, harassment, and marginalization. Now in its fourth year, CCI today announced the inclusion of 10 new campuses, in addition to three returning campuses, in this year’s cohort program. With this year’s cohort, 50 campuses nationwide will have participated in CCI’s signature program since its inception.
CCI is a collaboration between Hillel International, higher education administrators, and campus-based Hillel professionals, recognizing that university administrators play an essential role in improving the campus environment for Jewish students. These partnerships have already helped create transformational change that benefits students across the country. In addition to the 10 new institutional participants, administrators from colleges and universities in the prior cohorts who are new to their administrative roles will join this new cohort for learning sessions that span the 16-month program to ensure they have the same knowledge and skills that their predecessors gained during the cohort program.
Participants in previous CCI cohorts have reported greater understanding of Jewish identity and the experience of Jewish students on campus – including what it means for someone to be Jewish, what antisemitism is and how it can manifest on campus, and how to distinguish between legitimate criticism of the State of Israel and antisemitism. Based on learnings from the program, 96% of participating college and university administrators reported that CCI provided not only increased knowledge but also actionable guidance to improve the campus climate for their Jewish students.
A key feature of the CCI program focuses on engaging each participating college or university in developing an action plan to improve its campus climate. Schools including Tufts University, San Francisco State University, Goucher College, and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill have developed detailed, measurable action steps tailored to their particular students’ needs to enhance inclusion for Jewish students and address antisemitism as part of their comprehensive DEI efforts.
Mark Rotenberg, Hillel International’s Vice President for University Initiatives and Legal Affairs, who founded and leads CCI, said, “There has never been a more important time to equip college administrators with the tools they need to provide safe, welcoming environments for Jewish students. No student should be marginalized, harassed, or made to feel ashamed because of their identity or religious practice. At Hillel International, we are proud to lead efforts that empower Jewish students and all students to thrive and succeed during their college years.”
“It is an honor and a privilege to join forces with university administrators to ensure a welcoming and inclusive campus environment for every student”, said Ari Israel, Executive Director of University of Maryland, College Park Hillel. “The work done through CCI will uniquely position the University of Maryland and Maryland Hillel to better understand and support the Jewish student experience on campus and continue to build critical bridges with offices and departments across the institution.”
Monroe Gorden, Vice Chancellor, Students Affairs at UCLA said, “Creating a healthy learning, living, and working environment for all in our diverse UCLA community requires combating bigotry of all kinds, including antisemitism. Our relationship with Hillel has been invaluable for understanding the experiences of Jewish Bruins and the challenges they face. We look forward to learning more and working together to make sure Jewish students at UCLA have the first-rate educational experience that every student deserves.”
“It is not enough to acknowledge, or even condemn, the rise of antisemitic acts and speech around the country and in our community. As a university, we must be proactive in making Jewish students aware they are welcome and celebrated as a vital part of our campus community, and that a true sense of belonging can only be achieved when everyone feels safe and respected,” said Joseph Morales, Chief Diversity Officer at Chico State. “Joining the Hillel Campus Climate Initiative and partnering with Chico Hillel will give us access to the latest resources to better understand the needs of Jewish students, address issues when they arise, and foster a positive campus climate for all.”
Institutions either beginning or expanding their participation in CCI during the 2023-24 academic year include:
- California State University, Chico
- California State University, Long Beach
- College of William and Mary
- Oakland University (Michigan)
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- University of California, Irvine
- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
- University of California, Santa Cruz
- University of Maryland, College Park
- University of Texas, San Antonio
- Baruch College, CUNY
- Brooklyn College, CUNY
- University of Florida
Colleges and universities that have participated in the previous three cohorts are listed here.