A safer environment for Jewish students on campus

A national survey is set to be conducted into the Jewish experience on campus.

The graffiti spotted at the University of Melbourne. Photo: Plus61J Media
Antisemitic graffiti at the University of Melbourne. Photo: Plus61J Media

The Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) has partnered with the Social Research Centre to conduct a national survey into the Jewish experience on campus.

With the support of the Scanlon Foundation and other donors, the survey will be independently rolled out by the Social Research Centre with the help of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) and the ZFA.

ZFA president Jeremy Leibler said the importance of the survey was evident in his interactions with university leaders and students.

“Jewish students aren’t making formal complaints because they don’t want to make a fuss and they fear their marks will be affected. But since university chancellors aren’t seeing complaints about antisemitism, they think there is none.

“What became obvious is what was needed was a survey that shows the lived experience of Jews at university – not just their encounters with antisemitism, but the actions they take to avoid it,” Leibler said.

“If the findings are as bad as anecdotal evidence suggests they will be, we think universities will have to take action in order to better protect the wellbeing of Jewish students.”

ZFA director of public affairs Bren Carlill said the research would help create a safer environment for Jews on campus.

“There are all these ways antisemitism exists, even if it’s not necessarily a confrontation, and so the survey questions will hopefully capture this,” Carlill said.

“The survey is only going to take five minutes of your time and it’s going to present a real, accurate representation of the situation facing Australian Jews on campus.”

CEO of Scanlon Foundation Anthea Hancocks said the foundation believes strongly in the importance of research into areas which have an impact on social cohesion.

“The more we know about the experiences and perceptions of individuals, particularly from minority communities, the more able we are to address their issues,” she said. “Addressing any form of discrimination is an important and essential goal [for Australian society] if we are to live up to our aspiration of being a welcoming and supportive, diverse community.”

AUJS will work with the ZFA to roll out the survey to AUJS alumni from the last five years, as well as current university students.

AUJS president Alissa Foster said, “We want every single Jewish student to understand just how important reporting and writing down these sorts of incidents are, no matter how big or small.

“It’s that information that allows us to start that educational process, with the universities and with other students, to understand what antisemitism looks like and how we can better educate on ways to combat it.

“Without the data and with just anecdotal stories, it’s very difficult to do that, so we hope this survey fills that gap.”

The survey will be rolled out on March 14. To register email survey@aujs.com.au.

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