February 4, 2023 10:23 am

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After 70 years, Stanford University Apologizes to Jewish Students

Jews have been the victims of racial discrimination in America for long. A report released by the American Jewish Committee revealed that around 35 percent of American Jews accepted being the sufferers of hate crimes in the past five years.

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The President of US based Stanford University, Marc Tessier Lavigne on Wednesday (i.e. October 12th,2022) apologized for limiting Jewish students on the campus during the 1950s. He even sought forgiveness for even denying the existence of such a practice in the following years. 

Prestigious Universities in America such as Yale, Harvard, and Dartmouth also had limited Jewish enrollments on their campuses in the past.  

Task Force Report on Jewish history at American University

In January this year, a 13-member task force was set up to examine the reasons behind the University limiting the number of Jewish students for admissions in the 1950s. The task force was led by Ari Y Kelman, a professor of Education and Jewish studies and included trustees, alumni, students, and members of the university’s faculty and staff. 

After analyzing the archive reports, the task force revealed that Stanford University had practiced ‘Anti-Semitic activities’ by limiting the admission of Jewish students in the 1950s. They also misled the parents, alumni, trustees, and outside investigators, who raised concerns about the possibility of engaging in such practices by the university. 

The report document submitted by the task force also recommended improvements the university has to make to ensure a safe campus life for Jewish students. It advised creating a Standing Advisory Committee to address the daily needs of the Jewish students. Greater attention should be placed on Jewish religious observance in university scheduling, housing, and dining, and also provide anti-bias education on antisemitism. 

Far-reaching Impact of Limiting Jews at Stanford

The task force, while analyzing the limitation of Jews at Stanford, referred to the February 1953 memorandum (memo) stating that Stanford’s Director of admissions, Rixford Snyder was concerned about the number of Jewish admissions in the university. He also identified two Southern California high schools that had “95 to 98 percent Jewish”. Thus, he stated his solicitude if they invited “a few” applicants from these schools, “the following year we get a flood of Jewish applications”. 

Furthermore, as the news spread among the California Jews, the enrollment of students at the two high schools mentioned in the memo (namely Beverly hills high School and Fairfax high school) witnessed a sharp decline.

Many Jewish students were now deterred from applying to Stanford in later years. People now started connecting more with the racial inequality at the school.  

The effects of the anti-jewish bias in the 1950s are evident even today when in a recent incident, the Mezuzah(a piece of parchment with Hebrew verses, to remind Jews of their obligation toward God) of two Jewish graduate schools was removed from their hostel doors at Stanford during Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year). 

Last year, two Jewish mental health professionals at University’s on-campus counseling clinic, complained about workplace discrimination and how the practice of anti-jewish harassment by their colleagues was “severe and persistent”. 

Dark History of Jews in America

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Jews constitute around 2.2% of the population in the US as of 2020. The highest percentage is in New York, where around 1.77 million American Jews or 9.1% of the state’s total population reside. 

Jews have been the victims of racial discrimination in America for long. A report released by the American Jewish Committee revealed that around 35 percent of American Jews accepted being the sufferers of anti-jewish hate crimes in the past five years. Out of the fear of facing discrimination, many Jews in the US avoided posting online content or wearing any item that would identify them as Jewish. 

Way Ahead

It took around 70 years for the US-based Stanford University to accept the anti-jews bias by the authorities in their admission procedure. Tessier-Lavigne while accepting their antisemitic pursuit said that, “This ugly component of Stanford’s history, confirmed by this new report, is saddening and deeply troubling”
Western Nations in the recent past have become the major hotspots of hate-crimes against their religious minorities. From targeting Hindu communities in Leicester to anti-jews bias in US, these nations should  take stringent measures to prevent any future conflict.

Shreya Arora
Shreya Arora

Researcher | Content-Writer
~"Learn continually - there's always 'one more thing' to learn!"

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