As Jewish students increasingly find themselves unwelcome and unseen on college campuses across the country, Virginia Tech announced that it will participate in Hillel International’s Campus Climate Initiative (CCI) cohort for the 2021-22 academic year. The initiative deploys a unique model of partnership between Hillel International, Hillel at VT, and university administrators to address antisemitism on campus. Through this collaboration, campus administrators learn the tools and best practices to ensure a positive campus climate in which Jewish students feel comfortable expressing their identity and values.

The CCI model succeeds by strengthening the relationships between Jewish student leaders, Hillel professionals and campus officials, and by educating campus administrators about the Jewish community and antisemitism. CCI works within institutions’ existing commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion, recognizing that Jewish students need to be supported as part of these broader efforts but that content on Jewish identity and antisemitism is often missing in these spaces.

“We look forward to better understanding the campus climate for Jewish students and creating positive changes that benefit not only the Jewish students, but all students," said Alicia P. Cohen, director of Diversity Programs and director of Intercultural Engagement Center. "This is an exciting opportunity to collaborate with Hillel International, Hillel at VT, and to learn from other institutions who are engaged in this work to advance a more inclusive campus community.”

Unlike other efforts to address antisemitism on campuses, Hillel’s Campus Climate Initiative engages higher education leaders proactively with opportunities to rigorously assess their campus climate, learn best practices and policies, and develop action plans to meaningfully improve. The year-long cohort experience facilitates learning and sharing among university administrators mutually committed to addressing campus antisemitism, creating relationships that will improve communications and coordination when antisemitic incidents and other hate targeting Jewish students occur.

Virginia Tech joins a wide variety of campuses across the United States, from large research universities to smaller liberal arts colleges, and both private and public institutions. The cohort also includes campuses that have dealt extensively with issues related to antisemitism in recent years and those that are seeking to proactively improve their campus climate for Jewish students.

The cohort for the 2021-22 academic year will also include:

  • Binghamton University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Elon University
  • Florida Atlantic University
  • Goucher College
  • Ithaca College
  • Kennesaw State University
  • New York University
  • Northwestern University
  • Rutgers University
  • San Diego State University
  • San Jose State University
  • Stony Brook University
  • Temple University
  • Tufts University
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • University of Wisconsin System
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