University of Washington Exponentially Enriched My Jewish Life

The University of Washington (UW) was recently ranked the seventh worst college campus for Jewish students by Algemeiner in their “First Annual List of the U.S. and Canada’s Worst Campuses for Jewish Students.” While I believe a list like this can be damaging because it discourages prospective Jewish students from attending these campuses and expanding Jewish life, it is also surprising to see the UW ranked in the top 10 of this list. The UW campus has a vibrant Jewish student life. UW boasts a modern and inclusive Hillel, Jewish Greek life, a variety of Jewish related student groups, and the presence of several other important Jewish organizations, such as Chabad and Jewish Student Experience (JSE).

The administration at the UW has a history of supporting its Jewish students, along with all other students who are in minority groups. When I was a student, the President of the UW at the time, Michael Young, condemned the American Studies Association’s boycott of collaborating with Israeli academic institutions. That same year (2014), a BDS resolution was brought before our ASUW Student Senate. This resolution encountered one of the largest defeats of its kind and was voted against in a landslide of 59-8-11 (11 abstentions).

Academically, the UW boasts the world renowned Stroum Center for Jewish Studies with an internationally recognized Sephardic Studies Program and amazing faculty who are experts in their fields.

It is true that both anti-Israel sentiment and organizations exist on campus, but these people and groups are a small minority when compared to the greater student body. Jewish students at the UW can seek a myriad of support and resources if they choose to seek it out. If anything, attending the University of Washington enriched my Jewish life exponentially. During my time at the UW, I went to Hillel weekly (usually more), flew to Israel on Birthright through Hillel, was involved with pro-Israel advocacy, and made countless Jewish friends. As a student, I didn’t feel that the UW was one of the “worst” college campuses for me to attend – far from it.

This story "University of Washington Exponentially Enriched My Jewish Life" was written by Taryn Harris.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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