AMCHA’S Responses to Antisemitic Activity at Vassar College
1. Several Jewish students approached AMCHA Initiative and reported a disturbing escalation in anti-Jewish hostility that had not been adequately addressed by campus administrators.
- INCIDENT: In the midst of a protracted and virulently anti-Zionist Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign, a number of anti-Semitic incidents occurred which caused the students to feel vulnerable and threatened. Incidents included swastikas, Jewish students mocked at during a BDS vote, antisemitic statements on YikYak, and SJP advertising the condoning of terrorism against Israelis openly.
- 5/12/16 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative coordinated a coalition response of 35 groups who signed a letter to President Hill stressing, “The Vassar students with whom we spoke were deeply disappointed that you did not publicly acknowledge the anti-Semitic nature of these incidents and commit your administration to addressing the extremely hostile environment facing many Jewish students, who are reporting feeling harassed, intimidated and unsafe on your campus. It is not surprising that these incidents occurred during the BDS campaign at Vassar. As you may know, there is a well-documented relationship between anti-Zionist activity and acts of anti-Semitism on college campuses.” The groups then offered suggestions for steps the administration can take to combat antisemitism on campus.
- 5/18/16 – COLLEGE’S RESPONSE: President Hill responds with a thoughtful letter that reiterated her commitment to addressing antisemitism, but failed to mention steps she would take.
- 5/31/16 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA Initiative replied with a coalition of organizations in a letter to President Hill stating, “Thank you for your thoughtful response to our letter. We appreciate your commitment to ensuring the well-being of your students and the steps you have taken to mitigate the hostile climate that Jewish students have been experiencing. However, when we shared your letter with the Vassar students who originally contacted us, they remained concerned that the alarming levels of anti-Jewish hostility on campus had not been fully addressed and that the anti-Semitism they were experiencing would continue.”