Vanderbilt U. Woos Jewish Students

The school says it's encouraging diversity; some wonder if Vanderbilt is promoting the idea of Jewish intellectual superiority.

BY: John Gerome

 

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University officials are also expanding the Jewish studies program and attending conferences to promote the school as a comfortable place for Jews.

"What we're doing with Jewish students is the same we're doing with a whole host of underrepresented individuals on campus," said Michael Schoenfeld, vice chancellor of public affairs.

Davis also said: "We want the best students to come to Vanderbilt - Jews score well on the SAT."

Last year's college-bound Jewish seniors averaged 1161 out of a possible 1600 on the SAT, second only to Unitarians among 35 religions, according to the College Board, which administers the entrance exam.

Keimowitz said she worries that the recruiting could put pressure on Jewish students and feed stereotypes that Jews have the "inside track" or are part of some kind of conspiracy.

"Part of the problem is that, given the situation in the Middle East and the anti-Semitism that followed in Europe immediately afterward, it is fresh on people's minds," she said. "We are more ripe for anti-Semitism now than we have been in a while."

Tamar Rudavsky, director of the Melton Center for Jewish Studies at Ohio State University, said Vanderbilt and other schools that are recruiting Jews are also trying to pump up donations.

"Universities have figured out that there are many wealthy Jews who want to contribute to universities," she said. "They see this as an opportunity to get Jewish money. There is an aging population of 60- or 70-year-old second-generation Jews who want to give back but want to do so in a way that enhances education."

Vanderbilt's Schoenfeld said that getting donations is not a primary concern of the recruiting effort.

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