Last week, London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) agreed to refund the tuition of a student named Noah Lewis, who discontinued his studies because of what he described as a “toxic, anti-Semitic environment on campus.” While SOAS may be a particularly severe offender in this regard, it is not alone: a recent report by a respected British anti-Semitism watchdog catalogued 123 serious incidents on campus in the past two years. Stephen Pollard explains why these cases should not be taken lightly:
The real importance of the . . . ruling, however, is not that it upheld the accounts provided by Lewis. It’s that the appeal exposed the institutional failure of SOAS’s own academics to treat Lewis’s complaints properly. This is a story that is repeated time after time. Worse, it is often the academics who are responsible for fostering such an intolerant atmosphere and who are then protected by their colleagues.
In one instance, a student who complained about a professor’s defense of anti-Semites was as a result subjected to an investigation by the university. As Pollard explains:
It took three months for this investigation to be completed, with all charges dropped. The whole sorry episode reeks of attacking Jews for daring to complain about perceived anti-Semitism. It effectively sends the message to Jewish students and those who represent them that they should shut up and put up with whatever they are faced with, to exculpate the offender and find a way to blame the complainant. To blame the Jew for his own victimhood, in other words—an all too familiar theme in history.
It is quite rightly said that what happens in real life a generation later, as fashionable academic ideas seep out of the academy and as the students influenced by those ideas move into positions of influence in wider society. These are the academics who set the tone and agenda for much of campus life—and for those students who, over the next decades, will be setting the tone for national life.