ADL revises ‘report card’ grading US campuses’ handling of antisemitism

Watchdog reassesses 12 US universities’ grades upwards, 3 downwards, citing new information and ‘serious incidents’ since failing many leading schools

Illustrative: Harvard University students pass anti-Israel protesters while filing into Harvard Yard for commencement at Harvard University, May 23, 2024, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Illustrative: Harvard University students pass anti-Israel protesters while filing into Harvard Yard for commencement at Harvard University, May 23, 2024, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

The Anti-Defamation League announced on Tuesday that it was revising its Campus Antisemitism Report Card amid the “recent spike in hostile anti-Zionist activity” on college campuses in the United States.

Citing new information on responses to anti-Israel encampments, the antisemitism watchdog revised upward the grades it gave to 12 schools, including Princeton and Stanford universities. The grades of three schools, including the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), were revised downward, from D to F, for “serious incident(s) at encampment[s] on campus and lack of adequate administration response.”

US campuses have been awash in pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel protests since October 7, when thousands of Hamas terrorists stormed southern Israel to kill nearly 1,200 people and take over 250 hostages. Student activists have demanded universities cut ties with Israel amid the country’s devastating retaliatory offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The US Congress has launched investigations into several universities’ alleged mishandling of the protests, which some Jewish groups, including the ADL, have deemed antisemitic.

The ADL’s “report card,” first issued in April, assigned grades from A through F to 85 US universities’ institutional response to campus antisemitism. The ADL said the school selection represented the top national and liberal arts colleges, in addition to schools with the highest enrollment of Jewish students.

Since the report card’s initial release, anti-Israel activity on US campuses reached a fever pitch, beginning with the aggressive April 30 dispersal of a “Gaza solidarity encampment” at Columbia University. The following months, coinciding with the end of the school year, saw many instances of “antisemitic harassment, intimidation and violence,” according to the ADL, which said it had recorded over 2,600 arrests of pro-Palestinian student protesters.

Illustrative: A person wearing a keffiyeh sits among tents at the ‘Gaza solidarity encampment’ on the campus of Columbia University in New York on April 25, 2024. (Leonardo Munoz / AFP)

“This reassessment was deemed necessary because of the extreme volatility of the current campus climate,” the ADL said in a statement, noting that “the surge in protests has intensified anti-Jewish hate, leaving many Jewish students feeling threatened and, in some cases, unsafe.”

In the April report card, only two schools — Brandeis and Elon universities — received an A grade. Seventeen schools received a B, 29 schools received a C, 24 schools received a D and 13 schools — including Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology — received an F.

The new report card indicated a slight improvement in the ADL’s assessment, with two schools receiving an A, 18 schools receiving a B, 32 receiving a C, 24 receiving a D and nine receiving an F.

Illustrative: Anti-Israel protesters target Hillel, a social club for Jewish students, at Baruch College in New York City, June 6, 2024. (Luke Tress via JTA)

The ADL also commended six schools, including the University of Chicago, for taking decisive action against anti-Israel encampments, but left the institutions’ grades unchanged.

“Going forward, ADL will offer universities the opportunity to submit updated information in October if they wish to have their grades reassessed,” the group said. “ADL will continue to update the Report Card on an annual basis each April.”

Some Jewish groups have criticized the ADL’s report card. J Street, a prominent liberal Zionist lobby in the US, said in a statement in April that affiliated students attending universities that received D or F ratings described the report card as “absurd,” “exaggerated” and “unhelpful.”

Illustrative: Campus police stand between demonstrators at a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel encampment on the campus of the University of Chicago and counter-demonstrators after a brief skirmish between the groups on May 3, 2024 in Chicago, Illinois. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/AFP)

According to the ADL’s website, being involved in an antisemitism investigation and “recent anti-Zionist student government activity” contributed negatively to the group’s assessment of a school.

Positive contributing factors included “recent action taken” against anti-Israel activity, “active Jewish life” on campus, and whether or not the school adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, which has been criticized for “muzzling” critics of Israel by branding as antisemitic some forms of opposition to the country.

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