The Anti-Defamation League and Hillel International have released the results of the first major survey of anti-Semitism on college campuses since the Oct. 7 attacks. (One wave of interviews was prior to the attacks, one after.) The results are mostly what you would expect: a rise in anti-Semitic incidents and a chilling effect on displays of Judaism on campus, plus a general dissatisfaction with how school administrators are handling the outbreak of increasingly aggressive pro-Hamas activism.
Buried near the very end of the document is exactly one clear idea on what to do about all this campus hate. And it is an extraordinarily bad idea.
Since the Hamas slaughter and the Western left’s embrace of the murderers’ narrative, ADL director Jonathan Greenblatt has been far more willing to call out progressive anti-Semitism. Yet this survey suggests the ADL is still following each step forward with two steps back.
The final section of the ADL/Hillel report does not ask respondents how school administrators can alleviate the problem. It chooses one solution and asks them to take it or leave it.
The question is: “Should DEI”—that is, the diversity, equity, and inclusion bureaucracy—“cover anti-Jewish prejudice?” At least three-quarters of both Jewish and non-Jewish students say yes.
This is like asking a hungry person if they would like some toast. Well, sure—if it’s toast or nothing. The rational thing to do, however, would be to ask them what they want to eat.
DEI, as I wrote in these pages in June, functions as an administrative enforcement regime of ideological orthodoxy centered on race. Its core thesis considers Jews to be racially white and therefore agents of oppression whose presence on campus should be limited. DEI is responsible for a fair share of the rise in anti-Semitism on campus and the alacrity with which it has spread. It cannot be molded to include Jews.
But even if it could, it would still be a terrible thing. The ADL has invested in DEI programs and thus would like to throw good donor money after bad. To the students who think they’d actually like to strengthen DEI so long as they were included in its racial spoils system, I’d say: Look at what it’s doing to everyone.
DEI is about power, not diversity—that’s why a black DEI official was fired from a California college for, in part, proposing a “Jewish inclusion” event. Why would you want to be on either side of a race-based Hunger Games?
More important, you cannot have academic freedom and a DEI regime. You cannot have open inquiry and a DEI regime. And you cannot have anything remotely resembling freedom of expression and a DEI regime.
This is true for students and professors. As the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression put it, “Even bias reporting systems without an independent enforcement mechanism can have a serious chilling effect on the campus speech environment, as the mere prospect of administrative intervention is likely to cause students to self-censor views that may upset others. Encouraging students to report each other for expressing unpopular or controversial opinions undermines the university’s fundamental role as host to an open and vigorous discussion of ideas.”
The threat to instructors is just as obvious. Universities increasingly include DEI statements and other related pledges in their tenure processes, which means a tightly messaged political outlook will be enforced for anybody seeking job security. Meanwhile, some schools are replacing tenure-track positions with contingent appointments, in part so they can “take advantage of contingent contracts to get rid of professors who express positions that challenge campus orthodoxies,” as Inside Higher Ed reports.
Even if you could get DEI to expand the protection racket to make room for Jews, what you are asking for is to transform the Jewish student experience into an authoritarian and anti-intellectual project, punishing the pursuit of knowledge itself.
The ADL should not be encouraging Jewish students to lobby for a spot within a racial spoils system meant to replace traditional institutions of learning. It should be leading the charge to dismantle it.