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Poll: Less Than Half of Jewish College Students Feel Safe on Campus

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Jewish Rutgers University students and members of the community gather holding placards and flags in solidarity and vigil for Israel on Oct. 25, 2023, in New Brunswick, N.J. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

(RNS) — The number of Jewish students who feel safe on U.S. campuses dropped substantially after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, a new poll released Wednesday (Nov. 29) by the Anti-Defamation League and Hillel International, the Jewish campus organization, finds.

The poll, conducted by College Pulse, an online survey and analytics company, found that 66% of Jewish students felt “very” or “extremely” safe on campus prior to Oct. 7, but now only 45% feel the same.

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The poll of 3,084 American college students, of whom 527 were Jewish, comes as both antisemitism and Islamophobia have spiked in the wake of the Hamas attack and Israel’s subsequent siege on Gaza. Many Jewish students have reported feeling harassed and intimidated by pro-Palestinian rallies. Muslim students or those protesting in support of Palestinians have also reported doxxing and surveillance of their activities by Jewish groups.

The ADL and Hillel poll focused on campus antisemitism, which it has been tracking in regular polling since 2021. It comes amid growing cries for more vigorous enforcement of antisemitism and Islamophobia at schools that receive federal funds.

“Jewish Students Felt Physically Safer Before 10/07 Than They Do Now” (Graphic courtesy of Anti-Defamation League and Hillel International)

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation into Harvard University, The Boston Globe reported. The investigation was prompted by a complaint alleging Harvard “discriminated against students on the basis of their national origin (shared Jewish ancestry and/or Israeli) when it failed to respond appropriately to reports of incidents of harassment.”

The Office for Civil Rights has opened nine such college investigations since Oct. 7, according to its website.

Meanwhile, Congress’ Committee on Education and the Workforce is calling a hearing next week with the presidents of Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania. The House committee wants to question the university leaders about mishandling antisemitic and violent incidents against Jewish students on their campuses.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather for a protest at Columbia University, Oct. 12, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather for a protest at Columbia University, Oct. 12, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)