Majority of Harvard FAS Faculty Dispute Presence of ‘Systemic Antisemitism’ on Campus in Survey

Respondents to The Crimson’s annual survey of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences largely said they felt the University harbors neither systemic antisemitism nor systemic anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias.
By Tilly R. Robinson and Neil H. Shah

By Sharleen Y. Loh

Nearly 60 percent of faculty respondents to a survey of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences said they “somewhat” or “strongly disagree” that there is systemic antisemitism at the University, even as House Republicans continue to investigate antisemitism on Harvard’s campus.

Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the Israeli military’s retaliatory war in Gaza revealed a bitterly divided campus and sparked a wave of pro-Palestine student activism.

Many Harvard affiliates have also voiced fears over an increase of antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus. The University’s handling of antisemitism, in particular, prompted fierce backlash from wealthy donors and politicians in Washington, as well as the leadership of Harvard Chabad and Harvard Hillel.

But months after sustained criticism of the University’s response contributed to former Harvard President Claudine Gay’s resignation, respondents to The Crimson’s annual survey of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences largely said they felt the University harbors neither systemic antisemitism nor systemic anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias.

By Rahem D. Hamid

In the survey, 59.4 percent of respondents said they “somewhat” or “strongly disagree” that there is systemic antisemitism at Harvard — compared to 25.2 percent who “somewhat” or “strongly” agreed.

Though a larger percentage of respondents, 37.5 percent, said they “somewhat” or “strongly agree” that there is systemic anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias at Harvard, 40.6 percent said that they “somewhat” or “strongly disagree.”

The Crimson’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences survey was distributed to more than 1,400 members of the FAS, including tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty — with members’ names collected from its publicly accessible masthead. Members of the FAS were polled on demographic information, politics, and campus issues.

The email survey received 508 responses, of which 310 were fully completed and 198 were partially completed. It was open for two weeks, from April 3 to April 17.

This is the first installment in a series of pieces on the survey results. This installment focuses on faculty perspectives about campus antisemitism, campus Islamophobia, the war in Gaza, and the Harvard administration’s response to student protest.

FAS spokesperson Holly J. Jensen did not comment for this article.

The War in Gaza

A significant majority of respondents to the survey said that they believe Israel has responded too harshly to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

While 28.0 percent of respondents said they believe Israel’s response in Gaza constitutes genocide, another 47.9 percent of respondents they found Israel’s military response “excessive” but not genocidal.

Meanwhile, only about 14.2 percent of survey respondents called Israel’s response “appropriate” and 1.4 percent said they believe it was “insufficient.”

The survey results also demonstrated that while faculty respondents largely express support for both Israel and Palestine, they have much less favorable opinions of the governments in Israel and Gaza.

Respondents were allowed to select multiple answers in response to a question about which countries and governments they support in the ongoing conflict.

More than 72 percent of respondents said they supported Palestine, but not Hamas, while 67.0 percent of respondents expressed support for Israel, but not Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration. Meanwhile, 2.9 percent said they supported both Israel and Netanyahu’s administration, and 2.6 percent expressed support for both Palestine and Hamas.

The remaining respondents — just more than 12 percent — said they did not have a strong opinion.

In addition, respondents largely supported calls for both a ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war and for a two-state solution to broader conflict in the region.

About 80.6 percent of respondents supported calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, compared to only 6.7 percent in opposition. Meanwhile, 82.3 percent of respondents said they supported a two-state solution to the conflict in the region, while only 4.3 percent were opposed.

Faculty members were also surveyed on whether or not they supported calls for divestment from Israeli companies that operate in the West Bank. Pro-Palestine student activists have urged Harvard to divest from companies tied to illegal Israeli settlements for years — demands that have grown in prominence throughout the wave of protests following Oct. 7.

Student organizers are currently encamped in Harvard Yard to demand Harvard divest from companies with ties to Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and the conflict in Gaza.

A 40.7 percent plurality of respondents said they believe Harvard should divest from Israeli companies that do business in the West Bank — in contrast to 31.3 percent opposing divestment. About 28.1 percent of respondents said they would “neither support nor oppose” divestment.

Harvard officials, including interim University President Alan M. Garber ’76, have repeatedly and forcefully opposed calls for the University to boycott Israeli institutions.

Administrative Responses

Faculty were asked how successfully they thought the administration has responded to antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus. In January, Garber announced the creation of two presidential task forces aimed at countering antisemitism and Islamophobia and anti-Arab bias on campus.

“Reports of antisemitic and Islamophobic acts on our campus have grown, and the sense of belonging among these groups has been undermined,” Garber wrote at the time. “We need to understand why and how that is happening—and what more we might do to prevent it.”

Respondents were split on the efficacy of these efforts. Pluralities of respondents said they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied with the University’s efforts to combat antisemitism — 40.6 percent — and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias — 37.5 percent.

Approximately 32.6 percent of respondents said they were “very” or “somewhat satisfied” with the University’s efforts to combat antisemitism on campus, while 26.8 percent were “very” or “somewhat dissatisfied.”

In addition, 27.4 percent of respondents said they were “very” or “somewhat satisfied” with University efforts to combat anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias, while 35.1 percent were “very” or “somewhat dissatisfied.”

Although the task forces have held listening sessions with undergraduates and gave updates on their work to the Harvard Gazette, a University-run publication, they have yet to release reports or recommendations.

Another issue that emerged over the last few months was how the University should respond to speech with contested meanings — for instance, protest slogans that some consider political speech and others find hateful.

One such flashpoint is the phrase “from the river to the sea,” which pro-Palestine protesters often chant at demonstrations. In November, former Harvard President Claudine Gay condemned the phrase, which critics say is antisemitic and calls for the elimination of Israel.

However, pro-Palestine organizers have asserted that the phrase is not antisemitic, instead representing a call for liberation.

About 17.2 percent of survey respondents said that when protesters use phrases that some find offensive but others consider political speech, it is “never appropriate” for Harvard to condemn these phrases. Another 30.2 percent found it “rarely appropriate,” 43.5 percent thought it is “sometimes appropriate,” and 9.1 percent said it is “usually” or “always appropriate.”


The 2024 edition of The Crimson’s annual faculty survey was conducted via Qualtrics, an online survey platform. The survey was open from April 3 to April 17.

A link to the anonymous survey was sent via email to 1,414 faculty in the FAS and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The list comprised all faculty named on the FAS masthead for the current academic year, which includes FAS department and standing committee affiliates whose appointments are in other Harvard schools.

In total, 508 faculty responded to the survey, with 310 submitting fully completed responses and 198 submitting partial responses.

To check for response bias, The Crimson compared respondents’ self-reported demographic data with publicly available data on FAS faculty demographics for the 2023-24 academic year. (Unlike The Crimson’s survey, this data only includes faculty with FAS appointments.) The breakdown of survey responses was roughly in line with the demographic profile of the FAS.

More than 56 percent of respondents said they hold a tenure or tenure-track position, according to the survey. According to the FAS Dean’s 2023 Annual Report, 57.12 percent of FAS faculty are tenured or on the tenure track.

Among respondents who said they were tenured or tenure-track, 30.92 percent belong to the Arts and Humanities division, 27.10 percent to the Sciences division, 36.64 percent to the Social Sciences division, and 5.34 to the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

According to publicly available data for the 2023-24 academic year from Harvard’s Faculty Development and Diversity Office, 26.71 percent of tenured and tenure-track FAS faculty are in Arts and Humanities, 27.81 percent are in Sciences, 27.81 percent are in Social Sciences, and 12.88 percent are in SEAS.

The Crimson could not find public FAS data on the distribution of non-ladder faculty across the divisions.

Of respondents who identified their gender on the survey, 45.59 percent of respondents said they are female; among those who reported their race, 29.44 percent of respondents did not identify themselves as white (6.59 percent of respondents declined to identify their gender, and 14.3 percent declined to identify their race).

That compares to 39 percent of FAS faculty who are women and 27.6 percent who are not white, per the FAS Dean’s Report.

Survey responses were not adjusted for selection bias.

—Staff writer Tilly R. Robinson can be reached at Follow her on X @tillyrobin.

—Staff writer Neil H. Shah can be reached at Follow him on X @neilhshah15.

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