update deskSchools & Higher Education

Ed Department starts Title VI investigations into five more colleges

They all face charges of discrimination; at one school, “globalize the intifada” was projected onto a building by Students for Justice in Palestine.

Parrish Hall at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Credit: Kungming2 via Wikimedia Commons.
Parrish Hall at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Credit: Kungming2 via Wikimedia Commons.

Universities in Illinois, Vermont, California, Pennsylvania and New York are being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) for potential violations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

On Tuesday, the OCR named five schools for potential acts of discrimination: Illinois Wesleyan University (Bloomington, Ill.); Middlebury College (Middlebury, Vt.); University of California, Berkeley; Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, Pa.); and SUNY Rockland Community College (Suffern, N.Y.).

StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice, a nonprofit that partners with StandWithUS, filed the complaint against Middlebury College.

Yael Lerman, director of the nonprofit, told JNS that the center had received notification that OCR had “opened an investigation into Middlebury College and is looking into the egregious disparate treatment of Jews taking place at Middlebury. We look forward to working with OCR as their investigation explores the allegations against Middlebury outlined in our Title VI complaint.”

She described the school’s failures, saying administrators “disregarded student allegations, attempted to silence them, neglected to enforce its own rules and at times were complicit in discriminating against Jewish students. In doing so, the college has violated its obligations under Title VI and must be held accountable.”

The higher-education watchdog Campus Reform initiated OCR investigations for Illinois Wesleyan University and Swarthmore College.

The group said administrators at the former had ignored student antisemitism, citing a display that defended Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israel and labeling the Jewish state a “rapist.” At Swarthmore, Campus Reform notes—among numerous incidents that have created an intimidating environment for Jewish students—that the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter had projected “globalize the intifada” onto a building.

On Feb. 27, students needed to evacuate a speech given by an IDF soldier at UC-Berkeley due to disruptions by approximately 200 anti-Israel protesters. In November, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law filed suit against the university for its failure to counter the antisemitic environment on campus.

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