In 2017 alone, 234 anti-semitic acts have occurred at U.S. college campuses. Over 100 of the incidents occurred in the past two months, according to AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit dedicated to investigating and fighting anti-semitism in higher education.
College students tend to be supportive of other world views and faith traditions, but their actions do not always line up with their words, according to the Interfaith Diversity Experiences and Attitudes Survey.
“When students imagine, in a general sense, someone of another faith or perspective, they tend to express respect, admiration, and goodwill,” said Alyssa Rockenbach, a professor at North Carolina State University and one of the survey’s main researchers, in an interview with TakePart.. “When they are asked about their feelings towards specific groups, their attitudes are much more lukewarm, particularly regarding atheists, Hindus, Muslims and LDS/Mormons.”
Although 84 percent of respondents said they admired people of other faiths, only 53 percent responded favorably when asked about Jews.
Over 20,000 freshman from 122 different colleges and universities participated in the IDEALS study.
“With the current political climate — that’s bringing to the surface a lot of underlying issues,” said Beth Cooper, president of the Auburn University chapter of the Southern Poverty Law Center, after a self-proclaimed white student union at the university posted anti-semitic fliers on April 7.
On Tuesday, March 14, more than 100 anti-semitic flyers were found posted all across the University of Illinois-Chicago campus, according to the AMCHA Initiative.
Various headlines of the fliers included, “Ending white privilege starts with ending Jewish privilege” and “Naziism vs. Zionism.” The authors accuse Jews of receiving special treatment in higher education, according to Chicago Sun Times.
Other fliers commented on the annual income of Jewish-Americans, implying they received a disproportionately higher income compared to other Americans.
“Let’s keep in mind here that legitimate statistical evidence cannot be argued with, however, the statistical ‘evidence’ presented in these fliers is not only misleading but absolutely inaccurate and miscalculated,” said Eva Zeltser, president of Rohr Chabad, a student-run Jewish organization at UIC, in a Facebook post.
Zeltser found the fliers in the UIC library.
“If you are against hate crimes against one group, you should be against these acts of violence for ALL groups,” Zeltser posted.
Rebecca Lesses, a professor at Ithaca College, said all of the posters were anti-semitic, but ideologically contradicted each other, according to her personal blog. One flier implied the Holocaust didn’t happen, while another admitted the killings at Auschwitz happened.
Since the fliers posted, Zeltser has received death threats, including a threat to “put me on a list for extermination,” according to the Chicago Sun Times.
“If anyone tries to deny the anti-Semitism through college campuses around the US, you are not only kidding yourself, but you’re actively ignoring religious intolerance and discrimination,” Zeltser said. “These crimes of hatred are only devised by monsters.”
On April 6, a student at Seattle University found a Swastika slipped under the door of his dorm. Other 2016 hate crimes on Seattle University campus corresponded with the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, according to Capitol Hill Times.
Colleges across the U.S. should do more to foster interfaith cooperation, according to a report accompanying the IDEALS survey. Suggested actions included evaluating policies, training faculty to emphasize diversity.
According to the report, “educators could encourage a campus culture where people’s world views are celebrated as an aspect of their identities, affording students the opportunity to witness acts of service, generosity and kindness among individuals of diverse world views.”