The Rise of Anti-Semitism on Stanford’s Campus

Letters to the Editor: What Stanford’s anti-Jewish bias looked like on campus in the 1950s

The following is the fourth part of a series of essays about the rise of anti-Semitism on the Stanford University campus in the 1950s. The first part, “Anti-Semitism on campus in the 1950s,” was printed in the Stanford Daily on Sept. 6, 2014.

By the end of the 1950s, Stanford’s anti-Semitism was legendary. But it wasn’t just on campus that Stanford students found anti-Semitism intolerable: It was in Stanford’s textbooks, as well as in some of the university’s classrooms.

This month marks exactly 80 years since the school made the news by dropping all mention of “Judaism,” “Jehovah’s Witnesses” and “Christianity” and substituting instead with “religion” and “sociology.”

For decades, Stanford academics and administrators, along with the university’s Jewish student community, have tried to change that, arguing that the term “religion” is offensive in an age where religion is everywhere.

“By changing the name of our school to the University of Social Welfare, its focus will broaden,” Stanford President Charles H. Horner wrote in the letter announcing the change in name.

In an interview last week, the president said he hopes “to have better understanding in the name change debate.”

In other words, despite the protests from Jewish leaders and students, Stanford is going ahead with the name change.

“The controversy between the Jewish community as well as the university community was about the name—not the core values,” said Dean John Hennessy. “The name change became a test of values. For the university it was an opportunity to show that there could be a better understanding of religion, which in fact there was.”

The word “social” is no longer in the name of the university—

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