Alabama, Texas get top StopAntisemitism grades for campus climate

Anti-Israel protest next to Tulane University on Oct. 26.

Watchdog group StopAntisemitism released its annual Antisemitism on U.S. College and University Campuses Report on Dec. 6, using a report card-style grading system to assess 25 different colleges across the United States on their previous and current efforts to address campus antisemitism and protect their Jewish students.

This year, the University of Alabama was among those evaluated, and ‘Bama passed with flying colors. Other schools in the region were not as fortunate.

The report was originally slated to be released on Oct. 9, but due to the Hamas attacks of Oct. 7, the group waited to see what the schools’ responses to antisemitic incidents would be after the massacre, highlighting specific incidents and re-grading some schools.

According to the report, “Some ignored the situation and some created an actively hostile environment for Jewish students via inaction or malfeasance… if it were possible to give certain institutions a grade lower than an ‘F,’ we would.”

“Rising campus antisemitism has been supercharged by the recent Israel-Hamas conflict,” said StopAntisemitism Executive Director, Liora Rez. “This Report Card will help guide Jewish parents in assessing where it’s safe to send their children — a new and frightening consideration that would’ve been unthinkable just a few years ago. Armed with this information, it’s on all of us to hold colleges accountable for recognizing, calling out, and protecting their students from antisemitism.”

The 25 schools were selected and classified into five categories, with five per category: Ivy League and Ivy Adjacent, Liberal Arts, Private universities, and Public universities, east and west.

The grades were determined through four categories. Protection references how the school reports and responds to antisemitic incidents, and the willingness to work with Jewish groups when incidents occur. Allyship is about whether the college speaks out against antisemitism and includes Jews in DEI policies and training. Identity is whether Jews feel safe on campus as Jews, and whether they feel they are being personally held accountable for Israel’s actions. Policy includes adopting the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism — which none of this year’s 25 universities has done — the adoption of anti-Israel BDS resolutions or the active presence of groups like Students for Justice in Palestine.

This year, seven schools scored an A, while five — Brown, Cornell, Pomona College, Vermont and Chicago — received an F.

Alabama and Texas each received an A, while Rice received a C, and Duke and Vanderbilt received a D.

Last year, Tulane was one of only two universities to receive an A, along with Brandeis. North Carolina received a B, while Florida and Virginia received a C. Seven schools received an F — Yale, Columbia, Swarthmore, California-Berkeley, City University of New York-Brooklyn, New York University and Southern California.

The report on Alabama noted that students feel supported by the university, do not feel the need to hide their identity on campus, antisemitism is part of DEI training, there are Jewish affinity groups on campus, and no BDS resolutions have been presented. Though the study was about the main campus in Tuscaloosa, the presence of SJP at the University of Alabama at Birmingham was noted.

Texas had similar results, though they have a Palestine Solidarity Committee on campus, and sometimes students report not feeling safe showing support for Israel on campus.

At Rice, the students do not feel supported in combating antisemitism, and antisemitism is not included in DEI training. There is an SJP presence, but no notable incidents after Oct. 7. While Rice students say they do not need to hide their Jewish identity, they do not feel safe expressing support for Israel.

In September, Rice Pride cut ties with Hillel, stating that Zionism can not coexist with queerness. The administration did not comment.

At Vanderbilt, students do not feel supported, antisemitism is not included in DEI training, and there is an SJP-like club, Dores for Solidarity with Palestine. No BDS resolutions have been presented lately, and there have been no major incidents since Oct. 7. However, students report feeling the need to hide their Jewish identity and do not feel safe expressing support for Israel.

The report recounted a November 2022 incident where an assistant football coach defended the antisemitic statements of Kanye West. The coach was suspended for the rest of the 2022 season.

At Duke, which has seen a series of anti-Israel events along with the University of North Carolina, students report not feeling supported, stated they need to hide their Jewish identity on campus and do not feel safe showing support for Israel. Antisemitism is incorporated into DEI training. A BDS resolution was recently presented and passed, and there is an SJP presence on campus.

In revisiting last year’s scorecard, the organization called out Pennsylvania (which received an A- last year), CUNY, Yale and George Washington for particularly egregious antisemitic incidents.

North Carolina was mentioned for “a number of antisemitic incidents,” including an assault on a professor.

The University of Michigan’s administration “has done a good job” in responding to recent incidents, but the report notes that “its student body and faculty are out of control.”

The Oct. 26 “unsanctioned and unapproved anti-Israel rally next to Tulane’s campus was mentioned, along with the assault on Jewish students by pro-Palestinian protestors, but Tulane President Michael Fitts was praised “for being openly supportive of Israel and condemning Hamas,” and for his response to the rally.

Students were also surveyed about the atmosphere on campus. Seventy-nine percent of students said they had experienced some form of antisemitism at their school, up from 55 percent last year. Additionally, 32 percent did not report the antisemitic incidents.

A majority, 61 percent, feel the need to hide their Jewish identity on campus, and 72 percent feel unwelcome as a Jewish person. Also, 68 percent said their school’s administration does not take acts of antisemitism seriously.

The student survey was conducted before Oct. 7, and the organization “strongly feels” that these percentages would increase dramatically had it sent out the survey following the attacks.