University of Michigan, CUNY Failed to Address Anti-Semitic, Anti-Palestinian Harassment: Education Department

The universities are in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights.

The U.S. Department of Education said on June 17 that the University of Michigan and New York’s City University system failed to adequately investigate and address complaints of anti-Semitic or anti-Palestinian harassment linked to campus protests over the Israel-Hamas war.

The Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has seen an increase in accusations of campus harassment after Hamas launched a surprise terror attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.

The agency found 75 instances of alleged discrimination and harassment based on shared Jewish ancestry and shared Palestinian or Muslim ancestry at the University of Michigan between the 2022-2023 school year and February 2024. It found nine at schools in the City University of New York (CUNY) system dating back to the 2019-2020 academic year. The investigation determined that the responses from Michigan and CUNY did not properly remedy a hostile environment, violating Title VI requirements.

In one instance, a student reported seeing a swastika symbol crafted out of push pins on a public bulletin board. According to the Education Department, the school deemed it unnecessary to investigate because the maker of the swastika was not known.

During October 2023, the school received multiple reports about a protest on campus where students were shouting “[expletive] education, Nazi liberation.” The university allegedly forwarded the reports to its public affairs department with no resolution.

A student also reported being called a “terrorist” after participating in a pro-Palestinian demonstration, but the university did not take further action after saying it hosted “restorative circles” to address the complaint.

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The Office of Civil Rights said it had found “no evidence that the university complied with its Title VI requirements to assess whether incidents individually or cumulatively created a hostile environment for students, faculty, or staff” and that the school had failed to find remedies.

The University of Michigan agreed to monitoring by the Office of Civil Rights through the end of the 2026 school year and to report its responses to future acts of discrimination.

“The university condemns all forms of discrimination, racism, and bias in the strongest possible terms,” University of Michigan President Santa J. Ono said in a statement.

He said the college will keep working to “educate our community around the rights and privileges of free speech to ensure that debate does not tip over into targeted harassment or bullying.”

The incidents reported at CUNY schools included harassment and discrimination based on shared Jewish, Arab, Muslim, Palestinian, or South Asian ancestry.

The university system said it would investigate the complaints and provide the Office of Civil Rights with the results and intended remedial efforts. It will also increase training for campus employees and security officers and seek third-party review of the university system’s non-discrimination policies.

“Colleges serve as beacons of free speech and expression, but the safety of our students, staff, and faculty is paramount,” CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said in a statement.

“CUNY is committed to providing an environment that is free from discrimination and hate and these new steps will ensure that there is consistency and transparency in how complaints are investigated and resolved.”

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona called the climate of harassment and discrimination at universities a “challenging moment” in a May 3 statement.

“Hate has no place on our college campuses—ever,” he said in the statement.

“Sadly, we have witnessed a series of deeply concerning incidents in recent months. There’s no question that this is a challenging moment for school communities across the country.”

Colleges and universities around the country have received numerous reports of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia since the Hamas terror attacks, leading to more than 100 inquiries. Campuses ranging from Ivy League schools like Harvard and Yale to community colleges and public universities nationwide have seen complaints.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. Schools are required to protect their students from disparate treatment or face penalties from the Education Department.

“We will continue to work with school leaders, educators, and students across the country to ensure that everyone has a safe learning environment,” Mr. Cardona said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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