The student news site of Aspen High School


The student news site of Aspen High School


The student news site of Aspen High School


Navigating College Applications: A Jewish Perspective

Courtesy of Sophie Genshaft
A Pro-Palestinian encampment set up at the University of Wisconsin-Madison by students in front of the Memorial Library.

I am planning on applying to college next year. As a Jew, I am scared.

Growing up Jewish, I have always been part of a minority. Although I have missed school for Jewish holidays, noticed swastikas on classmates’ hands, and had a unique perspective while watching my peers read Night in 9th grade English, I didn’t feel part of a minority. However, on Oct. 7, 2023, this reality changed. The 0.2% population of Jews in the world became more than just a statistic, and I began to feel part of that minority.

As Hamas attacked innocent Israelis, the world turned its back on Jews. I felt more and more ostracized, worrying for my safety on a daily basis. I was scared of saying I was Jewish, and I was scared of going to school. Since October, as I think about my future, I fear what comes next.

On April 11, 2024, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a Campus Antisemitism Report Card, giving letter grades to 85 colleges and universities in the United States, many of which have higher Jewish populations than others. According to ADL, the report card ‘reveals that colleges must develop strong policies and procedures to address conduct that creates a hostile environment, while also swiftly enforcing those policies fairly when students, staff or faculty violate them.’

Among the list, only two colleges were given an ‘A.’ As much as I wish this is a shocking find, it is not. Jewish students have seen an immense lack of support from their colleges and universities, which is blatantly unacceptable. Harvard, one of the 13 schools that ‘failed’ the report, is a prime example of this. This is especially seen with the use of students’ language on campus, followed by an unwillingness of those in power, such as former Harvard President Claudine Gay, to condemn this discourse.

During a Title VI investigation into antisemitism on several college and university campuses in Nov. 2023, Gay was asked if at Harvard, ‘calling for the genocide of Jews violates Harvard’s rules of bullying and harassment.’ This entails students chanting definitively antisemitic phrases, such as ‘Globalize the Intifada,’ ‘From the River to The Sea, Palestine Will be Free,’ and ‘Death to the Jews.’ Gay responded, saying it was ‘context-dependent.’

In the ‘context’ of my life, calling for the death of any group of people is discrimination. I didn’t have to attend Harvard to learn this, and I didn’t have to be the president – understanding that advocating for human rights includes all humans is not a revolutionary concept. Yet, somehow, many people with the highest degrees of education still fail to label Jewish people as part of this category.

Considering that universities and colleges claim that they strive to create a sense of belonging for each member of their communities, general safety due to religion should not be a leading factor when applying to a college. By no means should the safety regarding the protection of your identity for the next four years of your life be a privilege. Typical factors, such as the classes offered, the level of education you are looking for, and the location of the campus, should not be overridden by the want for basic human rights.

The neglect of basic human rights will inevitably result in fear among all individuals, no matter their race, religion, or identity.

I am scared of walking across campus and hearing chants threatening my life. I am scared of wearing my Star of David necklace in public. I am scared of seeing swastikas drawn on buildings. I am scared of figures in power refusing to condemn my peers’ hate speech. I am scared to express my political opinions and receive antisemitism in return. I am scared to hear chants calling ‘by any means necessary’ being wrongfully interpreted as pro-Palestinian advocacy when, in reality, it is direct hate speech towards Jews.

Phrases such as ‘by any means necessary’ and ‘globalize the intifada’ are not calling for peace, they are promoting Hamas’ ideology of eliminating the Jewish state – these chants are not pro-Palestinian, they are pro-Hamas. Protestors are breaking into campus buildings for their hatred of Israelis and Jews, not their genuine care for Palestinian protection. These protests do nothing for the protection of Gazans.

“As a Gazan and as a Palestinian, I want the protesters and the organizers of these protests to know that their hateful speech harms us,” wrote Gazan peace activist Hamza Howidy in an article condemning campus protests. “The Jewish person or Israeli you are intimidating during your rally may be the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor or a family member of an Israeli slain or abducted by Hamas on October 7. These folks would be your partners if the protests were about achieving lasting peace and justice for Palestinians and Israelis.”

I am planning on applying to college next year, and I would like to feel safe on campus and not hear antisemitic chants disguised as advocacy. But for now, as the hate speech continues, I am scared.

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About the Contributor
Quintessa Frisch
Quintessa Frisch, Editor-in-Chief
Quintessa Frisch is a junior at Aspen High School. This is her third year writing for the Skier Scribbler and has taken on the role of Editor-in-Chief. Quintessa is looking forward to incorporating more creative designs into the layout of the paper. She is interested in current local and national politics. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors, specifically skiing and playing lacrosse.

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