AMCHA’S Responses to Antisemitic Activity at Vassar College

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2. Vassar College was mentioned in AMCHA’s report, “The Impact of Academic Boycotters of Israel on U.S. Campuses.”

  • 10/14/17 – INCIDENT: Vassar College was listed in Table 4, “Middle East, Ethnic, and Gender Studies Departments and Programs that Sponsored the Most Events with One or More BDS-Supporting Speakers in 2015 and 2016” of AMCHA’s new study, “The Impact of Academic Boycotters of Israel on U.S. Campuses.”
  • 11/15/17 – AMCHA’S RESPONSE: AMCHA wrote a letter to President Bradley to share, “new research that demonstrates the extent to which the on-campus implementation and advocacy of an academic boycott of Israel directly harm American students and faculty at U.S. universities.” The letter went on to detail how AMCHA’s study “found that pro-BDS faculty were between five and twelve times more likely to sponsor events with BDS-supporting speakers, and schools that hosted these events were twice as likely to have acts of anti-Jewish hostility.”
  • 11/15/17 – UNIVERSITY RESPONSE: President Bradley responded by thanking AMCHA Initiative.

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.”