Following a week filled with increasing threats, harassment, and violence directed at Jewish students at campus protests and encampments across the country, students from Brown, Columbia, and Rutgers demanded that university administrators better ensure the safety of Jewish students on campus. The students were joined by leadership from Columbia/Barnard Hillel, Hillel International, American Jewish Committee (AJC), and UJA-Federation of New York. 

The students shared how these protests – which started six months ago and have only grown to be more disruptive and threatening over the past week, are making them feel unwelcome and unsafe on their campuses. 

Mitch Wolf, student president of Rutgers Hillel, was in class at Rutgers Business School last fall when Students for Justice in Palestine declared “we’re occupying the business school and we’re here all night.” Mitch said, “I was shaken to my core, like someone came onto my home turf and told me it no longer belonged to me, and I wasn’t welcome to learn in my school because of who I am or what I stand for."

“We came to college to participate in vibrant, challenging, and equally-accessible learning environments. It is time for colleges and universities in the United States of America to decide whether they are still capable of meeting this description,” stated Jillian Lederman, student at Brown University and Executive Chair of Hillel International’s Israel Leadership Network (ILN).

Noa Fay, a student at Columbia University, shared, ​​"It is not my role to prescribe a solution to our school’s administrative problems; I came to Columbia to learn, not to teach. As I have heard countless times that no one knows what can be done, however, I will offer my advice: To both my university administration and those around the country, help us – your Jewish students – protect ourselves."

In recent weeks,  protestors have claimed solidarity with terrorists, celebrated the brutality of the October 7 attacks, and directly targeted Jewish and pro-Israel students, preventing them from accessing some areas of campus. 

“The situation we are seeing on our campus, and now dozens of other campuses around the country, stems from decades of decisions by administrators that have slowly eroded campus climate,” explained Columbia/Barnard Hillel Lavine Family Executive Director Brian Cohen. “Unfortunately, it is going to take time to restore our universities to the values they are supposed to uphold. But there is also one clear step we are calling on administrators to take today: uphold your codes of conduct, enforce your rules, and hold students who violate them accountable in real and consequential ways.”

“We will not accept conditions that are so fraught for Jewish students that they rightfully fear attending classes or going to the library on campus. And we will not accept the idea that university events – graduation ceremonies – should be canceled rather than taking action to ensure that these events go on.  We will not accept approaching the safety of Jewish students in a way that is different than that applied to every other group on campus. And, finally, we will not accept a world that is afraid to specifically call out and condemn antisemitism,” said AJC CEO Ted Deutch. “We’re not asking universities for radical change – it’s simple really; ensure the safety of your Jewish students, ensure that outside agitators are evicted from campus, and ensure this work doesn’t end when the last encampment is shut down. Work with us. Put a plan in place. We will not back down from defending Jewish students and creating the university culture that everyone strives for – one where everyone’s voices can be heard without violence, without harassment, and without intimidation – and a campus culture and a societal culture where there is zero tolerance for antisemitism.”

Adam Lehman, president and CEO of Hillel International, said, “Jewish students are demanding leadership, and it’s the responsibility of university administrators to enforce their policies and keep Jewish students safe. Jewish students, and all students, deserve better. We gathered today at Columbia to insist that administrators demonstrate moral clarity and take decisive action that differentiates between free speech and harassing threats of violence. Hillel will continue to be a home for Jewish students and a voice calling out for leadership. That’s our message at Columbia and on campuses nationwide.”

“We call upon our university presidents to enforce their own guidelines and ensure that students can walk on campus free from intimidation and harassment,” echoed UJA-Federation of New York President Linda Mirels. “Yes, we must protect free speech and we must also protect the rights of our students at the same time. What started at Columbia University has now spread across the greater New York area, and universities around America. We ask all universities to enforce their own guidelines, following in the leadership of New York University.”

You can watch a recording of the press conference here.


AJC is the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people. With headquarters in New York, 25 offices across the United States, 14 overseas posts, as well as partnerships with 38 Jewish community organizations worldwide, AJC’s mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. For more, please visit

Founded in 1923, Hillel has been enriching the lives of Jewish students for 100 years. Today, Hillel International is a global organization that welcomes students of all backgrounds and fosters an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning, and Israel. Hillel is dedicated to enriching the lives of Jewish students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world. As the largest Jewish student organization in the world, Hillel builds connections with students at more than 850 colleges and universities and inspires them to direct their own path. During their formative college years, students are challenged to explore, experience, and create vibrant Jewish lives.

About UJA-Federation of New York: Working with a network of hundreds of nonprofits, UJA extends its reach from New York to Israel to nearly 70 other countries around the world, touching the lives of 4.5 million people annually. Every year, UJA-Federation provides approximately $180 million in grants. For more information, please visit


Back to Top