May 10, 2024 - News

Brandeis University's appeal to Jewish students amid protests draws few transfers

Brandeis University's campus in Waltham.

Brandeis University in Waltham. Photo: Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Brandeis University is welcoming Jewish students seeking to transfer and escape pro-Palestinian protests on their current campuses with open arms, but so far it hasn't seen a bump in transfer requests.

Why it matters: Despite rising tensions at Boston-area colleges over the Israel-Hamas war, Jewish students haven't made plans to leave their colleges — at least not for Brandeis, per numbers from the Waltham university.

Zoom in: Brandeis received at least 520 transfer applications so far, according to a university spokesperson.

  • About 20 came in since last month when Brandeis announced it would extend its transfer application period until May 31.

Reality check: The volume of transfer requests isn't vastly different from what Brandeis has seen in previous years, but it's still noticeable for a campus with under 4,000 undergraduates in 2023-24.

Yes, but: Students still have three weeks to submit transfer applications for the fall.

State of play: Brandeis’ campus has avoided the spotlight as other Boston-area colleges grapple with pro-Palestinian encampments on their campuses, most recently MIT and Harvard University.

  • Hundreds of protesters, including some who are Jewish, want college leaders to cut research ties and investments with Israel over the government's ground offensive in Gaza, which has killed more than 34,900 Palestinians.
  • But Jewish rights advocates say the protests have crossed the line into antisemitism by using phrases like “from the river to the sea.” (See AP's explainer on the slogan.)

The MIT encampment on the Kresge Oval conflicted with the MIT Israel Alliance’s plans to celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut, Israel Independence Day, on May 7.

  • The student group had booked Kresge for the event months ago, according to a letter written by MITIA co-presidents Talia Khan and Eitan Moore.
  • But as talks between MIT and protesters stalled, thousands gathered earlier this week to push back against the president’s orders to clear the encampment.
  • The protesters ultimately reclaimed the encampment, and now they face suspensions.
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