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The ADL gave Princeton an F for antisemitism. After the CJL pushed back, they bumped it up to a D.

A pale yellow building is illuminated by gentle sunlight.
The Center for Jewish Life.
Ryland Graham / The Daily Princetonian.

From US News and World Report college rankings to the Ivy League basketball championship, it is rare for Princeton to fail. But last week, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) released a college antisemitism report card that awarded Princeton an F.

“The Jewish community on campus … rarely agree on anything, but when this ADL report came out, in one voice, we all laughed at it,” Stephen Bartell ’25, the president of the Center for Jewish Life (CJL) Student Board, told The Daily Princetonian.


However, just days later, the ADL quietly changed Princeton’s score to a D after speaking with Rabbi Gil Steinlauf ’91, the executive director of the CJL.

Steinlauf told the ‘Prince’ that, during his conversation with the ADL, he brought up several points from a statement he issued on Friday saying he “vehemently disagree[d]” with the ADL’s failing grade, also citing the existence of the University’s recently formed Jewish Experience Working Group. 

The ADL’s initial report card did not take into account the working group, which aims to collect data on “campus climate for Jewish students, faculty and staff,” recommend programming on Jewish identity and antisemitism, and “improve transparency and accuracy of perceptions related to the Jewish experience and antisemitism on campus.” 

Vice Provost for Institutional Equity and Diversity Michele Minter told the ‘Prince’ in a statement that the working group was organized in response to “an increase in climate concerns and bias incidents directed against Jewish, Muslim and other individuals across the United States.”

According to Internet Archive, information about the working group appears to have been added to Princeton’s “Cross-Institutional Working Groups” webpage sometime after March 14.

Shira Goodman, the senior director of advocacy at the ADL, told the ‘Prince’ that learning about the working group was “significant enough” to change the University’s grade.


But Jewish student leaders expressed that the University’s new rating was still not reflective of reality on campus, and some called the report card into question altogether.

Emanuelle Sippy ’25, the president of the Alliance of Jewish Progressives (AJP), called the grade change “a sign of just how ridiculous and outlandish [the ADL’s] reading of Princeton was.”

The ADL’s report comes shortly after the Department of Education, prompted by a complaint filed by an unaffiliated conservative activist, launched a Title VI investigation into the University regarding antisemitism on campus, a move that Bartell, Steinlauf, and other Jewish campus leaders said did not square with their experiences.

The ADL’s 21 criteria include the presence of anti-Zionist student government and student group activity as well as anti-Zionist and antisemitic incidents on campus. 

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“When the ADL maybe seems to imply that any form of anti-Zionist activity is antisemitic, we feel that is problematic,” said Niv Leibowitz ’27, one of the co-chairs of J Street U Princeton.

According to Goodman, the ADL also sent a written questionnaire to university presidents prior to releasing the report, but did not initially receive a response from Princeton. 

The report card specifically referenced incidents including the 2022 Caterpillar referendum, a 2023 speaker event with Palestinian writer Mohammad El-Kurd, and graffiti outside two eating clubs in December.

Like many of the schools scored by the ADL, Princeton was given full marks in applicable Jewish student life categories, from interfaith initiatives to pro-Israel programming and activities — both of which are listed as criteria for a good grade.

But a low rating from an organization as prominent as the ADL might pose problems for the University’s external image, especially for prospective students, several students said.

“The ADL is a well respected organization among a lot of Jews, particularly my parents’ generation of Jews,” Bartell said. “If the ADL tells the Jewish world that Princeton is not a good place to be Jewish, then all of the Jewish students I was lucky enough to meet yesterday [at Princeton Preview] thinking about coming to Princeton … they might make the call to go somewhere else, where the ADL tells them it’s better to be Jewish.”

Emmett Weisz ’27, another co-chair of J Street, echoed Bartell’s concerns. “When [prospective students] see now that Princeton has a D, they might think that there’s a large culture of antisemitism at Princeton, which is just not the case, in my experience,” he said.

Goodman, the ADL advocacy director, said that the report card was meant to be “one tool” for evaluating colleges alongside other resources like Hillel International’s college guide.

“I would feel comfortable sending my student if it was the right school, to any of these places [on the report card], especially because [of their] strong Jewish student life … it wouldn’t drive everything for me,” she said.

The report card has also generated pushback at other universities — including Michigan State University (rated an F) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, George Washington University, and the University of Vermont (all rated a C) — as well as Hillel International.

“We do not believe it is constructive or accurate to try to assign grades to schools as a means of assessing the totality of Jewish student experience at those campuses,” Adam Lehman, the president and CEO of Hillel International, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a statement.

“It’s just far removed from the actual lives Princeton students are living here,” Bartell said.

Miriam Waldvogel is an associate News editor and the investigations editor for the ‘Prince.’ She is from Stockton, Calif. and often covers campus activism and University accountability.

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