American Jewish Committee (AJC), the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people, understands that college students today are facing an unprecedented environment, with the growing threat of antisemitism and anti-Israel rhetoric and real threats to student safety and well-being. At the same time, many students are looking for opportunities to express their values, engage in constructive dialogue, and come together with like-minded peers. Therefore, AJC has created this concise action plan with steps to support students in their efforts to improve their campus’ atmosphere and ensure their own safety.
This action plan closely follows the U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism. That strategy charts a broad and ambitious series of action steps spanning sectors and communities, in response to the threat to the integrity of our shared institutions, including higher education, posed by antisemitism. AJC experts are available to work in partnership with students and campus organizations to help build an atmosphere more resilient against rising Jew-hatred. We look forward to working with you. For more information about anything in this action plan, or to set up a meeting, please be in touch with AJC Campus Affairs. AJC has also created An Action Plan for Heads of Independent Schools.
What students can do right now
- Prioritize your own safety. The October 2023 war between Israel and Hamas has resulted in anti-Israel campus protests escalating in intensity and scope, and threats to Jewish student safety have risen dramatically at many schools. Students should take extra precautions to ensure their own safety and take recommendations from the university and campus organizations like Hillel and Chabad seriously. This includes not engaging directly with protesters.
- Encourage your university to address safety. It is the university’s responsibility to respond to the increase of threats to the Jewish community on campus and take action so that Jewish students, faculty, and staff are safe and feel safe on campus, and Jewish programming and facilities are protected. Inquire about the security measures your school is taking and advocate for additional steps to enhance campus safety
- Report all antisemitic activity. Hate speech and other forms of antisemitism cannot be addressed if it is not reported. Be sure to report any and all antisemitic activity on campus, both to the university and local authorities so they can be properly addressed. Professionals on campus from Hillel and Chabad can assist you and can often ensure anonymity.
- Report students who violate university codes of conduct. Anti-Israel campus protests have become increasingly unruly and, in some cases, violent since the October 7 attacks. Message boards and social media are being weaponized to threaten and intimidate Jewish students. Threatening behavior, property destruction, and disorderly or antagonizing conduct, among other actions, constitute breaches of university codes of conducts and should be reported immediately. Make sure you understand how to report bias crimes and other violations of your school’s code of conduct and encourage friends and peers to report all violations and bias incidents.
- Report faculty who create hostile environments. Faculty must adhere to professional standards and should not create a hostile environment for students based on their personal views. If a professor is making you feel unwelcome, providing misinformation in class, engaging in hate speech, or offering advantages to those with whom they agree, report the professor to the department chair and Academic Affairs offices to ensure that the proper disciplinary measures are enforced.
- Educate yourself about Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Join educational events or workshops on Israel, its history, and the various narratives involved. Avoid relying solely on social media or biased sources. Dive deeper with books, podcasts, and videos from respected organizations you trust. The AJC Campus Library offers several excellent resources from which you can learn and stay informed.
- Build a community with your peers both on and off campus. Work with AJC and campus organizations like Hillel and Chabad to engage with a diverse group of Jewish students on and off campus. Make an effort to attend a local Shabbat dinner, join events celebrating Jewish life, and more. AJC is helping in organizing and sponsoring Shabbat dinners both on and off campus. Please contact us for more information and apply for leadership opportunities like AJC’s Campus Global Board, Goldman Fellowship, and Campus Track at Global Forum.
- Foster dialogue and advocate for inclusivity. Organize open forums or panel discussions where students can engage in constructive conversations about antisemitism and its impact on campus life. Collaborate with other student groups, including interfaith organizations, to promote understanding and unity. Work with the student government to pass resolutions or policies that condemn antisemitism and promote a more inclusive campus environment. Advocate for the inclusion of antisemitism awareness and education in diversity and inclusion programming at your school.
- Encourage your school’s administrators to address antisemitism in its most potent forms, including the intersection between antisemitism and anti-Zionism. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism provides a clear framework for understanding the various manifestations of antisemitism on college campuses nationwide, including debates about Israel’s right to exist and Zionism. The IHRA definition offers contemporary and practical examples of anti-Zionist forms of antisemitism, explicitly noting that criticism of Israeli policy is not antisemitic. Encourage your school to directly address the areas where anti-Zionism and antisemitism overlap, as these issues have been at the forefront of campus activism and have posed threats to Jewish student safety following the October 7 Hamas terror attacks.
- Encourage your school to convene an antisemitism task force. Task forces, comprised of Jewish students, faculty, and campus leaders, have proven to be an effective way to counter the rise of antisemitism on campus. The task force should report directly to senior university leadership, providing an actionable list of initiatives and a clear timeline for implementation.