Majority of Jewish Students Dissatisfied with Universities’ Lack of Response Since Oct. 7, New Survey Finds



February 15, 2024

More than half of Jewish college students say they have been impacted by antisemitism on campus since Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel, say further support from university administrations is needed

WASHINGTON – Jewish college students are increasingly frustrated with the lack of response from university presidents and leadership to ongoing antisemitism on campus since October 7, a new survey finds. The survey, conducted by Benenson Strategy Group on behalf of Hillel International, the world’s largest Jewish college organization, finds that 57% of students are not satisfied with the response of their administration to acts of violence and hate on campus, up from 50% in October. Only a third of students say they are satisfied with the way their university leaders have responded to such incidents. 

Antisemitism on campus has increased seven-fold since October 7 compared to the same period last year, the highest number of incidents (more than 940) on record. And while many colleges and universities have created antisemitism task forces in an attempt to help solve the problem, this latest poll finds that Jewish students strongly prefer that universities enforce their own existing rules and regulations rather than create new task forces.

When asked about what universities can do to make campuses safer for Jewish students, education topped the list — nearly half (44%) of Jewish students say that the most important step schools can take is to provide more education for non-Jewish students about antisemitism. Enforcing campus rules and regulations is also a top priority – nearly four-in-ten (39%) students surveyed say that stronger responses and consequences from their administration toward students who violate the school’s existing code of conduct already would make them feel safer, compared to only 16% who say a new task force will improve their sense of safety. 

“New data reveals what we already know to be true: Four months after October 7, Jewish students are still feeling the aftershocks of Hamas’ attack on Israel and Israel’s response through the pervasively hostile environment toward Jewish and Israeli students that universities have allowed to persist on college campuses,” said Hillel International President and CEO Adam Lehman. “Our work is far from over. Even as Hillels do everything possible to support Jewish students on campus facing these unacceptable conditions, we need our university partners to do the same.”

According to the survey, a majority of Jewish college students (56%) say their lives have been directly impacted by antisemitism on campus since October 7. Students say they feel unsafe on campus for being Jews – more than one-third say they have had to hide their Jewish identity (37%) and nearly one-quarter have felt unwelcome in a space on campus because of their Jewish identity and/or support for Israel (23%). 

Treatment from peers and professors has contributed to Jewish students’ feeling of safety and belonging on campus. More than a quarter (29%) of Jewish students have had a professor say something antisemitic or anti-Israel, or have been treated differently by a professor because of their identity or beliefs. One out of every 15 Jewish students (7%) have even considered transferring or leaving school because of the climate for Jewish students. 

The survey comes as universities seek solutions to the unprecedented rise in antisemitism and polarizing discourse on campus and social media. Hillel is continuing its work with universities to educate administrators on antisemitism and how to create a positive campus climate for Jewish students, including through its Campus Climate Initiative, which will be expanding this spring. 

The survey was conducted online by Benenson Strategy Group (BSG) on behalf of Hillel International between February 5-7, 2024, and included 300 Jewish college students (MoE + 5%).

Additional findings of the survey include: