Life on Campus

Concerns over antisemitism, anti-Israel hostility, racial and ethnic discrimination, and free expression on college campuses have recently been at the forefront of national debate. Our campus studies series explores these critical issues with representative samples of Jewish and non-Jewish students.


Online or On-Campus Report Cover


September 2021

Graham Wright, Sasha Volodarsky, Shahar Hecht, and Leonard Saxe

This study uses the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic to investigate long-standing questions about the role of the physical campus in the undergraduate college experience. The findings are based on survey data collected in spring 2021 from random samples of undergraduate students at three elite, private universities in the Northeast. We examined how physical and virtual campus experiences at the three schools related to students’ perceptions of the quality of instruction and faculty engagement, their sense of belonging at their school, and their overall assessment of their mental health.

Journal article

February 2021

Graham Wright, Sasha Volodarsky, Shahar Hecht & Leonard Saxe

Since 2016, a series of horrific acts motivated by antisemitism appear to have caused a fundamental shift in the prevalence of antisemitism in the United States. Little is known, however, about how the events during this time have affected the day-to-day experiences and concerns of American Jews. Using repeated cross-sectional data from surveys of Jewish young adults who applied to Birthright Israel, this paper analyzes recent trends in Jewish young adults’ experiences and perceptions of antisemitism.

Contemporary Jewry (2021), 

Politics on the Quad report cover


November 2019

Graham Wright, Shahar Hecht, Michelle Shain, Leonard Saxe, Stephanie Howland

This report examines five institutions, Brandeis University, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the University of Florida, Gainesville and explores two questions regarding the political climate on the college campus: 1) How divided are liberal, moderate, and conservative students at each of these five schools with respect to their political attitudes, their perceptions of the campus environment, and their place within the campus community? 2. How do these divisions differ in magnitude and nature from one campus to the next?

Race, Community, and Belonging report cover


February 2019

Graham Wright, Michelle Shain, Shahar Hecht, Leonard Saxe

This report follows up an earlier survey of the Brandeis campus in 2016 that resulted in All Together Separate: Race, Ethnicity, and Religion on the Brandeis campus. Repeating the survey in 2018 allowed us to examine the ways in which campus environments and intergroup relations change over time and determine whether the same issues continued to dominate campus conversation.  

Limits of Hostility report cover


December 2017

Graham Wright, Michelle Shain, Shahar Hecht, Leonard Saxe

This report is part of a program of research focusing on undergraduates and their perceptions and experiences of antisemitism and anti-Israel hostility on US campuses. This report examines four institutions, Brandeis University, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Michigan). The report draws on survey data collected in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic years from representative samples of undergraduates (both Jewish and non-Jewish) at these schools. 

Hotspots of Antisemitism report cover


October 2016

Leonard Saxe, Graham Wright, Shahar Hecht, Michelle Shain, Theodore Sasson, Fern Chertok

This report follows an earlier study that found that a substantial portion of Jewish students reported having been exposed to antisemitism and hostility toward Israel on their campuses. Because the extent of the problem varied considerably across campuses, we attempted in this report to identify "hotspots," or campuses where antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment were especially acute. Based on findings from a 2016 survey of Jewish undergraduates at 50 US campuses, this study also looks at the particular manifestations of hostility at different campuses and the ways in which hostile climates influence the lives of Jewish students.  

Diversity, Pressure, and Divisions report cover


October 2016

Michelle Shain, Fern Chertok, Graham Wright, Shahar Hecht, Annette Koren, Richard J. Gelles (University of Pennsylvania), Leonard Saxe

This report is the second in a series of reports on select campuses, and focuses on the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), historically, the most welcoming to Jewish students of all Ivy League schools. Based on a survey of both Jewish and non-Jewish students, the study presents a snapshot of the characteristics of Penn undergraduates in the 2015-16 academic year. It explores the intersection of racial, ethnic, and religious identities, gender, and sexual orientation, intergroup interactions, experiences of discrimination, and feelings of safety and belonging on campus in the context of the larger campus climate.

All Together Separate report cover


May 2016

Leonard Saxe, Fern Chertok, Graham Wright, Michelle Shain, Shahar Hecht, Annette Koren, Theodore Sasson

Using Brandeis University as a case study, this study takes a broad view and explores a wide range of issues at the intersections of undergraduates’ racial, ethnic, and religious identities. The study surveyed Jewish and non-Jewish students regarding perceptions of inter-group relations, experiences of prejudice and discrimination, attitudes on contentious issues, and beliefs about the campus climate for free speech and critical discourse.  

Antisemitism on the College Campus report cover


July 2015

Leonard Saxe, Theodore Sasson, Graham Wright, Shahar Hecht

This report had two aims: first, to understand the extent of hostility toward Israel and antisemitism on North American campuses and second, to assess the relationship between these trends and Jewish students’ support for and connection to Israel. The study, conducted in spring 2015, draws on a survey of US and Canadian college students and young adults who applied to Birthright Israel.  

Journal article

December 2008

Charles Kadushin and Elizabeth Tighe

Despite the academic successes of Jewish students on college campuses in the United States, challenges remain, particularly in terms of social involvement and ability to practice religion, much like the challenges that face students who are members of other ethnic and religious minorities. In this paper we examine data from 1,087 Jewish students at eight elite colleges and universities in the United States. The greater the percentage of Jewish students on campus and, individually, the more Jewish students feel connected to other students, including Jewish friends, the more at ease they feel. Those more engaged in Jewish religious practices experience greater difficulty, especially if there are no kosher dining facilities on campus. Both the “invisible hand” of social structure and the practical matters of Jewish observance affect Jewish students’ personal sense of ease. Contemporary Jewry 28, 1–20 (2008).