How to navigate antisemitism on campus as a Jewish college student

“We often think we can fight antisemitism alone. That is the biggest lie we tell ourselves"

Nearly 50% of Jewish students say they or someone they know has been physically threatened for being Jewish, according to a recent study.

In the survey, which was conducted by Jewish on Campus and Alums for Campus Fairness, respondents shared stories of being spat on, ‘beaten up’ by frats because they were Jewish and told to ‘pick up pennies.’ One student found a swastika etched into their dorm room door and another was told ‘all Jewish men look alike and are ugly’.

Given these accounts, it’s not surprising that 95% of Jewish college students and recent graduates feel antisemitism is a problem on their campuses, according to the study.

For students returning to campuses this fall, numbers like this can feel daunting. That why Unpacked spoke with members of the Jewish on Campus executive, a movement ​​of young Jewish people working against antisemitism on college campuses, to get their biggest tips for navigating antisemitism on campus.

Their advice: find community and speak up.

“Don’t be afraid to speak up about what you see and hear on campus. Whether it’s in a small group setting or in the classroom, standing up against antisemitism is important and courageous,” says Rebecca Schneider, who graduated from Washington State University in 2021 and works as the chief human resources officer at Jewish on Campus.

Micah Gritz, COO of Jewish on Campus, says a large part of the problem is that antisemitism remains the norm on campuses and because of this calling it out challenges this unfortunate norm.

“Antisemitism will remain normalized on campus until we break that cycle of normalization. And that begins with you,” he says. “Use your voice, speak up. Be loud and proud of your Judaism.” 

Lastly, know that you’re not alone, says Michal Cohen, Jewish on Campus’ CMO.

“We often think we can fight antisemitism alone. That is the biggest lie we tell ourselves,” she explains.

Her biggest piece of advice: “Seek out those who share the same goals and values as you and work together to combat antisemitism. Create a community to share the high and lows of fighting antisemitism on campus.”