Tufts University unveils plan on antisemitism as more than half of Jewish students report incidents

Many Jewish students felt they had to conceal their identity to be welcome in some organizations.

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

Tufts University is taking new steps to address antisemitism based on a “troubling” survey showing that Jewish students are concealing their identity to join campus groups, President Tony Monaco revealed on Thursday.

“More than half of Jewish student respondents reported to have observed some form of antisemitism a Tufts,” Monaco said in a statement. “Disturbingly we also heard from some Jewish students who felt that, in order to be welcome in student organizations supporting social justice, they had to hide their Jewish identities.”

Faculty and staff also reported that campus issues related to antisemitism, including those surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, had lately become more difficult.

High-profile campus incidents in recent years have included a student senate measure to boycott Israel passed on the eve of Passover in 2017, a 2020 resolution blaming Israel for racial tension in American policing, an attempt by Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine to remove a Jewish member of a student government body, and, most recently, the theft of a mezuzah from a student’s doorpost.

Last December, the university, working with Hillel International and a private consultancy, formed an ad hoc committee to study antisemitism on campus, Monaco said. The committee recommended new training on antisemitism for students, faculty, and staff, and that university orientation for freshmen include feature programs on antisemitic bias.

Tufts has also joined the 2021-2022 Hillel International Campus Climate Initiative (CCI) cohort, an initiative in which universities respond to antisemitism based on the experiences of Jewish students, faculty, and staff.

“We are very encouraged by President Monaco’s leadership in undertaking this comprehensive survey on antisemitism and for his firm commitment to implementing its recommendations,” Rabbi Naftali Brawer, Executive Director of Tufts Hillel, told The Algemeiner on Monday. “We are fortunate to have in President Monaco a friend and partner, determined to ensure that Jewish life can continue to flourish at Tufts University.”

The committee also proposed hosting more forums on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A university-wide advisory, Monaco added, will be commissioned to counsel senior school officials “on the best ways to approach the implementation process.”

“We are not immune from the rise in antisemitism across the nation, including the alarming incident in Texas just this past week,” Monaco continued, alluding to the antisemitic attack on a Reform synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. “It is incumbent that we take active steps to combat it on our campus. You have my commitment that we will work on these recommendations to improve the quality of Jewish life at Tufts and work to combat campus antisemitism in its various forms.”