Posted in .

ZBT, ΣAM, AEΦ and ΣΔT Join ADL to Combat Anti-Semitism on Campus

  • April 20, 2016

On Wednesday, April 13th, college students from across NYC gathered at ADL Headquarters to learn and discuss methods to individually and collectively address anti-Semitism on campus.

This special program grew out of a national partnership with four traditionally Jewish Greek organizations, including ZBT, ΣAM, AEΦ and ΣΔT,  who wanted to ensure their students had the resources and support from ADL.

Students from several colleges and universities attended the program, including Columbia University, New York University, Brooklyn College, and Barnard College, and the open forum provided students an ideal opportunity to hear about their peers’ experiences with anti-Semitism on different campuses.

During the opening activity, an overwhelming majority of students indicated they have experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on campus. The next part of the program, “The Pyramid of Hate,” clarifies the impact of anti- Semitism and its tendency to escalate when unchecked. The group explored how subtle acts of bias can escalate into violence, the impact of anti-Semitism on individuals and society, and the role of individuals in interrupting the escalation of hate. This activity also helped everyone recognize the need and benefits of interrupting the escalation of hate by responding to those behaviors listed on the lower levels of the pyramid, such as stereotyping and belittling jokes.

Words to Action_7

The second half of the program focused on tangible response strategies to anti-Semitic comments and incidents on the interpersonal level. Many students shared their experiences with friends or acquaintances making insensitive jokes about Jews, or making uninformed comments about Israel, and how it can be difficult to navigate those situations and avoid unnecessary confrontations. Facilitators shared simple strategies to respond, such as asking a follow-up question to an insensitive joke or comment as a means of exposing its biased nature.

After discussing the positive and negative implications of several response strategies, students analyzed anti-Semitic scenarios and worked in pairs to brainstorm how to handle the situation. This enabled students to walk away with both an increased awareness of situations they may encounter on campus, and tangible methods of responding to keep in mind.

Throughout the program, students were granted the unique opportunity to exchange ideas with students from different campuses and diverse backgrounds. While the grim reality of anti-Semitism on college campuses was exposed, students expressed appreciation for the opportunity to participate in ADL’s program and felt more empowered to respond.

In the words of one particpant:

“This program helped me understand the importance of responding to biased jokes and comments, even from friends. I have experienced this before, and it is super awkward to call a friend out or even someone in class. But we discussed the simple strategies ADL suggested and figured out how to customize them so they don’t sound rude or accusatory.”

If you would like to learn more about ADL New York Region’s campus program and initiatives, please contact Stephanie Merkrebs at or 212.885.7736.

greek workshop collage