Majority of Jewish College Students Say They Feel Less Safe Due to Encampments; 61% Report Antisemitism During Campus Protests



May 13, 2024

New poll from Hillel International measures Jewish student experiences as commencements begin

WASHINGTON – A majority of Jewish college students feel less safe because of anti-Israel protests and encampments at their school, and report the use of antisemitic, threatening or derogatory language toward Jewish students during those protests. As commencements begin on campuses across the country, a majority of Jewish students are concerned that protests and encampments will disrupt graduation ceremonies, with nearly three-in-four saying they want schools to remove the encampments and/or protests to eliminate the possibility of disruption to commencement and graduation.

Jewish students also say that campus protests and encampments have had a detrimental impact on their ability to learn, study, and even attend class. 6 in 10 Jewish students (58%) say the encampments have made it more difficult for them to learn, study or concentrate. And more than half (51%) have had their classes canceled, interrupted, moved to Zoom, or been blocked from attending.

The new survey was conducted on behalf of Hillel International, the largest Jewish campus organization with a presence on more than 850 campuses worldwide. Hillel has tracked nearly 1,600 incidents of campus antisemitism since October 7 alone, including assaults, vandalism and hate speech, with more than 400 of those incidents targeting individual students. In just a single week, a Hillel-led petition demanding that university administrators do more to support their students and safeguard commencement ceremonies has garnered nearly 30,000 signatures.

“Jewish students, and all students, deserve to pursue their education and celebrate their graduations free from disruption, antisemitism, and hate,” said Adam Lehman, president and CEO of Hillel International. “Our findings demonstrate that a majority of Jewish students surveyed have experienced bias and discrimination in their classroom and academic experiences based on faculty and staff abusing their authority in support of the rule-breaking and unlawful anti-Israel encampments and protests. University leaders are legally required to address these hostile and discriminatory conditions, and we will continue to insist that they do so for the benefit of Jewish students and all students.”

The survey was conducted by Benenson Strategy Group from May 6 to May 8 and included 15-minute interviews with 310 Jewish students. The margin of error is 5%. The full topline data can be viewed here. Key findings include: