update deskSchools & Higher Education

Cooper Union, Cornell, Columbia, Penn, others under Title VI probes

"There's been a lot of talk about rooting out antisemitism on campuses, and it's time to hold these colleges accountable," stated Kenneth Marcus, who leads the Brandeis Center.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (right) and Douglas Emhoff, who is married to U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, participated in an event in Los Angeles on Jan. 9, 2023. Credit: Cameron Smith/Official White House Photo.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona (right) and Douglas Emhoff, who is married to U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, participated in an event in Los Angeles on Jan. 9, 2023. Credit: Cameron Smith/Official White House Photo.

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell and Columbia universities are among the institutions that the federal government is investigating for Title VI violations, the U.S. Department of Education announced on Thursday.

All four institutions have had recent high-profile examples of Jew-hatred on campus.

On Oct. 25, Jewish students hunkered down in a Cooper Union library as anti-Israel protesters sought to enter.

On Nov. 9, Penn president Liz Magill noted “vile, antisemitic messages” projected on campus buildings. In late September, the campus was home to the “Palestine Writes” literary festival, which hosted several notorious antisemites.

A Cornell student was arrested on Nov. 1 and charged with antisemitic death threats that temporarily closed the campus Hillel kosher dining hall. And late last month, Columbia and Barnard students decried “inaction” at the schools amid attacks on Jews.

The Maize Unified School District in Kansas; Lafayette College in Easton, Pa.; and Wellesley College in Massachusetts were also under investigation, according to the Education Department.

“Hate has no place in our schools, period. 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,” stated U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

The investigations underscore “how seriously” the Biden administration “takes our responsibility to protect students from hatred and discrimination,” Cardona added.

The Louis D. Brandeis Center, a nonprofit, filed separate civil-rights complaints against Penn and Wellesley on Nov. 10, alleging that they permitted anti-Jewish discrimination.

Among the cited violations at Wellesley was a residential adviser’s Oct. 18 email to students stating that ” there should be no space, no consideration and no support for Zionism within the Wellesley College community.” (The RA evidently wrote back with regret for any harm caused but later posted on Instagram that the apology was dispatched “gun to my head.”)

“These colleges and universities have failed to keep Jewish students safe and are in clear violation of well-established federal civil-rights law,” stated Kenneth Marcus, founder and chairman of the Brandeis Center and a former U.S. assistant secretary of education.

“There’s been a lot of talk about rooting out antisemitism on campuses, and it’s time to hold these colleges accountable,” he added. “We want to thank the students for their courage in coming forward and collaborating with us to ensure we hold these universities accountable for letting Jewish discrimination run rampant.”

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