UC Santa Cruz joins Hillel International’s Campus Climate Initiative

UC Santa Cruz is the second UC campus to join the initiative, which provides campus leaders with training and resources to support Jewish students by creating a more welcoming, inclusive environment

Students selling challah in Quarry Plaza
UC Santa Cruz students with Hillel sold rainbow challah in the Quarry Plaza earlier this year. From left: Eva Hecht (first year UCSC student), Ariella Klenetsky (third year UCSC student), Rachel Kedem (third year UCSC student), Daylen Degelsmith (previous Associate Executive Director and Director of Student Life), and Koral Belson (Israel Fellow).

The University of California, Santa Cruz, is joining Hillel International’s Campus Climate Initiative to improve and strengthen the environment for Jewish students. CCI provides campus leadership with a comprehensive program to foster a campus climate in which Jewish students feel comfortable expressing their identity free of antisemitism, harassment, or marginalization.

UC Santa Cruz is the second UC campus to join the initiative and the fourth university in California. Over the next 16 months, campus leaders will receive training and resources and will work closely with Santa Cruz Hillel leaders and the Campus Climate Initiative team.

“The sharp rise in antisemitism across the nation is deeply troubling, and we must work to counter those who perpetuate hate in an effort to divide us,” Chancellor Cynthia Larive said. “We are looking forward to partnering with Hillel leaders to strengthen the UC Santa Cruz experience for Jewish students.”

The Anti-Defamation League reported that the number of antisemitic incidents increased by 36 percent in 2022, reaching an all-time high in the United States. Antisemitic activity reported on college and university campuses increased by 41 percent in 2022, with 219 incidents reported at more than 130 campuses across the country.

The UC Santa Cruz community was stunned and horrified by antisemitic and anti-LGBTQIA+ incidents that occurred in April. Campus leaders have been providing support and resources to the students impacted, while also seeking opportunities to strengthen the campus climate. Participating in this initiative is an important step toward strengthening the campus climate for Jewish students and strengthening inclusivity overall. Additional efforts are underway and will be announced at a later date.

Hillel International created CCI in 2020 to collaborate with higher education leaders. The initiative recognizes that senior leaders serve an important role in bringing about broad-based changes on campus and that university-Hillel collaborations can benefit all students.

“Jewish students should feel comfortable expressing their identity, culture, and values,” said Campus Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Lori Kletzer. “We are looking forward to working with Hillel and the CCI team to combat antisemitism on our campus.”

CCI’s program intentionally integrates into the host campus’s broader diversity, equity and inclusion efforts to foster a positive campus climate for all students. The program provides campuses with formal research tools to assess their current climate and a 16-month educational curriculum for senior leaders through which to explore Jewish student experiences on campus. It also supports the development and implementation of action plans that seek to create a more inclusive climate for Jewish students and all students.

In order to proactively counter antisemitism before an incident occurs, CCI works with university leaders to better understand the atmosphere on their campuses and take specific positive steps that enable Jewish students and all students to thrive. The 16-month cohort experience, comprising about a dozen universities each year, facilitates learning and sharing among hundreds of university administrators mutually committed to addressing campus antisemitism and creating relationships with their local Hillel campus professionals that improve coordination when antisemitic incidents do occur. The Hillel team will serve as a partner for campus administration toward the shared goal of a safe, vibrant campus community for Jewish students.