Jewish students across the US blame DEI, faculty for anti-Israel protests: 'Wasting my tuition dollars'

USC, George Washington, UT-Austin, Rutgers and Cornell students said the campus environment is 'dangerous' and 'antisemitic'

Jewish students across the United States have expressed concern for their safety and suggested school faculty, as well as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, are promoting antisemitic viewpoints that ratchet up the political temperature on campus. 

George Washington University student Sabrina Soffer, graduating early as a junior in December, told Fox News Digital that there is no balance of opinions among the faculty. While the school has emphasized diversity, Soffer claimed it is only diversity surrounding a singular idea. 

"Students are not learning how to think, but they're learning about what to think," she said. "There's no real academic rigor that surrounds learning how to think. So, they're just getting pushed to get a grade."

Soffer said that students spend a significant amount of time being fed "propaganda" on social media, which affirms the notions they are learning in class and keeps them isolated in their own "echo chamber."


Jewish students speak out against campus antisemitism

Jewish students from Cornell, USC, UT-Austin, Rutgers and George Washington told Fox News Digital that faculty have allowed anti-Israel protests to flourish.  (Nikolas Lanum/Fox News Digital)

She added that this conduct by faculty and students, in addition to the widespread acceptance of DEI, has turned George Washington into a "concerning" and "dangerous" environment.

"There's also no respect for American values in terms of, you know, there's a lot of anti-Western seedlings in the DEI idea as a whole. Binary notions, very false notion of the oppressor and the oppressed, where all White people are oppressors," Soffer said. "And, you know, Jews just don't fit into that framework at all. So, they're pinning, you know, false binary notions on entire societies when they don't even make any sense."

Amanda Silberstein, a second-year student at Cornell University, also criticized the actions of faculty and said the ongoing sentiments about Israel and Jews have left her "ostracized and "socially isolated" from classmates. 

"I just encountered a lot of hostility when I do express my identity and my pride in it," she said. 

Silberstein claimed that professors are participating in "illegal rallies" on campus and spouting "antisemitic ideologies" to impressionable students in the classroom.

She alleged that one teacher's assistant in charge of an Egyptian history course moved their discussion session to the encampment for a day. Students had the option not to attend.

Professor Russell Rickford, who was put on leave after describing Hamas' bloody operation in Southern Israel as "exhilarating," has also visited the encampments and spoken with students, according to Silberstein.



A woman walks by a Cornell University sign on the Ivy League school's campus in Ithaca, New York, on Jan. 14, 2022.  (AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey, File)

"He's still here. He's still a professor engaging in illicit activity on our campus, and no action is taken against him. No action has been taken against any students, even after repeated warnings, for the repercussions of their actions. They've all been empty threats," Silberstein said. 

Students, according to Silberstein, are being told by professors that Israeli Jews are "settler colonialists" and have been openly critical of Zionism in class.

"They're teaching opinions as fact and really removing any, any opportunity for open dialogue, which is frankly, a shame. And it's something that, you know, I, I really think about every day that I'm wasting my tuition dollars on," she said. 

University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) student Andrew Goldberg told Fox News Digital that students have been spat on and yelled at for wearing a yarmulke on campus. One of his friends was allegedly told to "Go back to Germany."

Some criticized the school response, where police officers were seen subduing and arresting agitators. Goldberg suggested the conflict may have escalated further if it was not for the strong show of force by police. 

UT Austin has been one of the universities with a substantial anti-Israel encampment spread across campus grounds. 


Officer on horseback confronts protesters

Mounted police work to contain demonstrators protesting the war in Gaza at the University of Texas at Austin on April 24, 2024, in Austin, Texas. Students walked out of class as protests continue to sweep college campuses around the country. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

On April 29, at the UT campus in Austin, police moved in to break up an encampment. In what was left behind, officials discovered a series of handouts celebrating the death of innocent Jews and the elimination of Israel.

UT officials also said they found weapons; chains and steel cables to barricade doors; and buckets of rocks and bricks to assault police. Of 79 arrested, 45 had no affiliation with the university, the officials added.

Goldberg said that a significant value of Judaism is freedom of speech and building dialogue between groups. However, he said the events on campus have begun to cross the line and have endangered students. He added that there have been calls for violence and instances where minority students have been persecuted. 

Brandon Tavakoli, a rising senior at the University of Southern California, said he believes there is a clear difference between free expression that advocates for the Palestinian people and calls for violence.

"USC campus has never really been an activist campus. Our student body is really focused on being students and not necessarily being political activists, much like you see at UC Berkeley, Columbia, Harvard and other Ivy League schools. That changed last week when we saw hundreds of students begin to protest in a way that was completely unacceptable, in a way that intimidated, harassed, and targeted Jewish students," he said.

A USC valedictorian was recently barred from giving a speech at the school's graduation ceremony following a series of social media posts she allegedly made that called for the abolition of Israel. 

Tavakoli said the incident led to a "deluge" of harassment against Jewish students by classmates and outside agitators. The school at the time said they canceled the speech because of security threats. 


Protesters, officers at a rally in Columbia

A University of Southern California protester is detained by USC Department of Public Safety officers during an anti-Israel occupation at the campus' Alumni Park on Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Los Angeles.  (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

"Jewish students and their families read that statement with a lot of devastation because it essentially blamed the Jewish community on our campus for being the central threat to safety. And that has exposed Jewish students, including myself and the students that I represent, to unacceptable amounts of online harassment that have crossed the line," he added.

Tavakoli also suggested that all of the anti-Israel rhetoric and harassment on campus was preventable if the school did its due diligence and avoided "morally ambiguous decisions" when handling its own failures. 

Rutgers University Student Joe Gindi told Fox News Digital that the protests at his school have been a lot calmer than at schools like USC and UT Austin. He commended Chancellor Francine Conway of the New Brunswick Campus for recently acknowledging antisemitism as a serious problem on campus. However, he stressed that the school still needs stronger leadership, especially when rules are not being enforced. 

Gindi said student demonstrations have occurred inside the classroom and were, in some cases, encouraged or allowed by faculty. He said these situations led to a number of concerning incidents where Jewish students were told they could not respond or it was not their time to speak. 

"This isn't creating dialogue. This is just creating a situation where Jewish students are entirely uncomfortable and being inside the classroom," he said. 

Gindi also said that Jewish students feeling unsafe is not a partisan issue and thanked people like Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., Rep. Ritchie Tores, D-N.Y., Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., and Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., for speaking out against antisemitism.

The schools listed in this story did not immediately return Fox News Digital's request for comment.  

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