Department of Education Opens Probes Into Universities Over Antisemitism, Islamophobia Complaints

Title VI under the Civil Rights Act prohibits institutions that get federal funding from discriminating against people based on skin color or ethnicity.

The Department of Education announced on Nov. 16 that it has opened investigations into schools over their handling of complaints of antisemitism and Islamophobia amid the war between the Jewish state of Israel and the Islamic terrorist group Hamas.

The schools under investigation for alleged Title VI violations include Columbia University, Cornell University, Wellesley College, University of Pennsylvania, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Lafayette College, and Maize Unified School District.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Cooper Union and Columbia University, both in New York, for comment.

Cornell University declined to comment.

Maize Unified School District, which is in Kansas, said it was informed on Nov. 16 of the complaint, which it did not receive, a spokesperson told The Epoch Times, and therefore could not comment further on it.

Lafayette College spokesperson Scott Morse confirmed the school got a complaint but said the institution does not know why.

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“To the contrary, as recently as last week, students of differing views shared a peaceful gathering on campus to honor all those who have died in the recent violence in the Middle East.

“This event was typical of how our campus community has acted with care and kindness during this time,” he told The Epoch Times.

“The college maintains a firm stance against antisemitism, Islamophobia, and hate speech of any kind,” continued Mr. Morse.

“The college is cooperating and will continue to cooperate fully with the [Department of Education] in their investigation.”

“Maize USD 266 takes allegations of discrimination seriously and is committed to cooperating fully with any investigation,” said spokesperson Lori Buselt.

“The school district is dedicated to providing a place for teaching and learning that prioritizes and champions respect and inclusivity and where all students and employees feel safe and valued.”

Wellesley spokesperson Stacey Schmeidel told The Epoch Times the college got the complaint.

Title VI under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits institutions that get federal funding from discriminating against people based on skin color or ethnicity.

The probes into the University of Pennsylvania and Cooper Union began on Nov. 15, while the investigations into the other aforementioned schools started on Nov. 16.

The Education Department has not specified any antisemitic or Islamophobic incidents at the institutions, but said that complaints against five of the schools were about antisemitism and the other two were about Islamophobia.

It did not say for what hatred each school is being probed.

“Hate has no place in our schools, period,” said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in a statement.

“When students are targeted because they are—or are perceived to be—Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Sikh, or any other ethnicity or shared ancestry, schools must act to ensure safe and inclusive educational environments where everyone is free to learn.”

Columbia University has seen antisemitism including pro-Palestinian rallies. Jewish students have complained of antisemitic graffiti and anti-Jewish verbal and physical abuse.

The university has suspended its chapters of Students of Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP).

SJP, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), “is a network of pro-Palestinian student groups across the United States which disseminate anti-Israel propaganda often laced with inflammatory and at times combative rhetoric” and is “a leading campus organizer of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions [BDS] campaigns against Israel.”
JVP, according to the ADL, is “a radical anti-Israel activist group that advocates for a complete economic, cultural, and academic boycott of the state of Israel” and “rejects the view that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a tragic dispute over land which has been perpetuated by a cycle of violence, fear, and distrust on both sides; in favor of the belief that Israeli policies and actions are motivated by deeply rooted Jewish racial chauvinism and religious supremacism.”
At Cornell University, a student, Patrick Dai, was arrested on Oct. 31 for allegedly threatening to kill Jewish students.

A professor, Russell Rickford, said at an Oct. 15 rally on campus that he was “exhilarated” over Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks on Israelis and other innocent civilians that resulted in the deaths of more than 1400 people—the largest single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust.

“What has Hamas done? Hamas has shifted the balance of power. Hamas has punctured the illusion of invincibility,” he said. “That’s what they have done. You don’t have to be a Hamas supporter to recognize that.”

Mr. Rickford apologized for his rhetoric on Oct. 18.
At Wellesley College, a women’s school in Massachusetts, staff sent out an email last month to residents of a dormitory saying that pro-Israel students should not be welcome.
The school, Ms. Schmeidel said, “responded quickly and decisively to the incident involving student leaders in a residence hall detailed in the Brandeis Center complaint and has shared its response in multiple communications to our community, while making clear antisemitism has no place at Wellesley.”

The staff email stated: “Munger Hall stands in strong condemnation of Israel’s actions and those who have supported their actions against Palestinians.”

“We firmly believe that there should be no space, no consideration, and no support for Zionism within the Wellesley College community.”

The University of Pennsylvania has seen antisemitic messages projected onto campus buildings earlier this month and a Palestinian literature event in September where there was antisemitic rhetoric.

At Cooper Union, Jewish students were trapped inside the library as pro-Palestinian and antisemitic protesters were banging on the doors in an apparent attempt to intimidate them.

It is unclear what Lafayette College, which is in Pennsylvania, and Maize Unified School District are being investigated for in terms of antisemitism or Islamophobia.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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