Web Site Provides Tools To Combat Bias on Campus

Published August 07, 2007, issue of August 10, 2007.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A recently launched Web site aimed at combating antisemitism on college campuses has generated “a huge and gratifying response,” according to Kenneth Marcus, staff director of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

The commission launched the site — including information about what antisemitism is, what can be done about it and whom to contact for help — this past spring. Since then, Marcus said, students and faculty have contacted the organization about bias on various campuses, and the commission “helped them find the right agency” to inform.

Marcus said that campus antisemitism is “a serious problem that warrants further attention.” He first noticed the severity of the problem when serving as head of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, and he wanted to do something about it when he was appointed to the commission in December 2004.

The commission held a formal briefing on the subject in November 2005, because members wanted to hear more information about it by experts before deciding what to do about the problem. Representatives from the American Jewish Congress, the Institute for Jewish & Community Research and the Zionist Organization of America gave briefings and fielded questions from the commissioners. Panelists discussed incidents of antisemitism all over the country.

College campuses can be “islands of antisemitism,” Sarah Stern, founder and president of the think tank Emet, the Endowment for Middle East Truth, told the Forward. Stern, who was the AJCongress’s director of governmental and public affairs when the briefing was held, spoke before the commission about her research on the subject. Often, Middle Eastern studies departments “have a political agenda, and have hijacked objective scholarship,” she told the Forward. Antisemitism can be camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism, as well, creating “a double standard with Israel as a generator of perfidy,” Stern said.

Based on the briefing, the commission released a report about campus antisemitism, but “it was not enough simply to issue a report,” Marcus said. While originally thinking of releasing pamphlets or making public service announcements on the radio, the commission chose to do more, and decided that the best way to reach college students was through the Internet. Members solicited thoughts and ideas from many civil rights and Jewish groups, including Hillel, ZOA and the Anti-Defamation League, to determine “how best to present the message,” Marcus said.

“We’re very pleased,” said Jeff Rubin, a Hillel spokesman. With Hillel being an important part of Jewish life on many campuses, the group was able to lend its expertise on the best way to reach college students.

The result is a Web site (www.eusccr.com) that works both as an informational tool about what defines antisemitism and as a way for those who believe that there is a condoned atmosphere of antisemitism at their school to find out what their protection is — and how the government can enforce that protection. Those wishing to file a complaint can use the Web site to find an appropriate agency, or to contact the commission directly for help. Marcus notes that sometimes those wishing to speak out “have been afraid of retaliation,” but now, with the Web site, they are better able to deal with antisemitism both in and outside the classroom.

The site “will inform students so they can speak out,” Marcus said. “They don’t have to take it in silence.”

“It’s an important statement,” said Ken Jacobson, deputy national director of the ADL. Jacobson said that having the commission working as part of the larger effort to combat antisemitism on campus could have a positive effect as one of the many efforts to fight the issue at colleges.

In addition to the Web site, the commission has created posters and postcards to help spread awareness about campus antisemitism. Representatives of the commission also speak on college campuses about civil rights issues, including antisemitism.

“My hope,” Marcus said, “is that this public education campaign will make campuses more welcoming.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.