Millennial anti-Semitism on college campuses

Alph Epsilon Pi house at Emory University.
Alpha Epsilon Pi house at Emory University.

Each year millions of Americans send their students off to college. Typically a moment of pride and joy for most parents, but for Jewish parents, this has become a moment of fear and anxiety.

There has been an unfortunate rise in anti-Semitism on college campuses across the nation. The disheartening part is not only the fact that anti-Semitism is present on college campuses; it’s that these anti-Semitistic attacks are committed by professors and administration, the people on campus that scholars look to as an example.

A survey produced by Trinity College reported that over half of Jewish college students experienced discrimination on their college campuses between 2013 and 2014. This evidence proves that not only is anti-Semitism a current issue, it is a large issue.

The same Trinity College survey was conducted in over 50 U.S. campuses, and still over half of the students reported either witnessing or experiencing anti-Semitism from peers or staff. In order to understand the significance of anti-Semitism, one must understand the meaning of anti-Semitism.

Even some of the top American colleges have been found to have the highest rates of prevalent anti-Semitism. According to the Jewish Press, Columbia and Cornell University have been labeled the top two universities of prevalent anti-Semitism. Additional information from the Jewish Press reveals that even specific professors such as Rashid Khalidi and Joseph Massad have “been accused of harassing Jewish students on multiple occasions.”

Anti-Semitism is part of a horrible history of sorrow and misjudgment, it is an ignominy that the mistakes of history are being repeated in a country that represents freedom and equality for all.

Although a prevalent issue on many campuses, organizations based on college campuses similar to the USC Shoah Foundation, help fight the power of anti-Semitism specifically on college campuses.

The Shoah Foundation is an organization that helps educate and evoke change in prejudice and specifically anti-Semitism throughout high school and college students. As a junior intern with the Shoah Foundation, I have seen the effect the foundation has begun to have on its USC campus in fighting anti-Semitism. As the cliché goes, “students and young people are the future.” If this is true, it is imperative that we guide our students on the path to understanding and acceptance of people who derive from cultures different from our own and embrace them rather than persecute them.

As educated and open-minded as our college students may be, they are still immature and insensitive to their actions and how those actions affect others. As disclosed in a publication from the Anti-Defamation League, Stanford University has been reported to have experienced anti-Semitistic expression on its campus. Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), a chapter of Stanford’s fraternity, was exposed in vandalizing their campus with anti-Semitistic symbols and slang– identical to a more recent incident on Emory University’s Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house. A fraternity is most commonly known for its emphasis on brotherhood. But what emphasis does SAE put on brotherhood when it harasses one of its very own?

Organizations such as the USC Shoah Foundation and the Anti-Defamation League are helping the U.S. and its occupants back onto the path of equality, the path from which we have strayed, and the path that our country pioneered.

Once our millennials are educated about a variety of cultures and their significance, they will begin to understand the impact and significance of their actions on the world, and those around them. Once they can comprehend this domino effect, they can begin to shape the world they live in. Once this change is put into effect, all families will feel the joy of sending their children off to college with an absence of fear that will be replaced by an overwhelming presence of joy and pride.

It is up to educators, parents and anyone who can positively influence millennials, to guide them on the path to being able to mold their societies, and see all people as equals; not to see people by their religions, skin color, or ethnicity. It is time to provide our millennials with the tools to stop any act of hatred, whether it be anti-Semitistic acts, racism, or cultural prejudice.

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