update deskSchools & Higher Education

Title VI: Lafayette College did not ‘redress hostile environment’ on campus

A federal investigation also finds efforts to counter social-media threats failed.

Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. Credit: quiggyt4/Shutterstock.
Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. Credit: quiggyt4/Shutterstock.

A review by the federal government determined that administrators at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., failed to properly follow the 1964 Civil Rights Act in response to campus antisemitism.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced on Friday that it found that the school “did not adequately discharge its obligation to take steps reasonably designed to assess the existence of, or redress any hostile environment affecting its campus.”

The OCR noted that administrators had “misapplied the legal standard, particularly with respect to harassment occurring on social media.” The agency described how “records show inconsistent responses to the same conduct depending on whether it occurred on or off campus.”

The announcement said Lafayette University’s responses to Jew-hatred “were not reasonably designed to redress any hostile environment” and its efforts to counter social-media threats also failed in “recognizing its Title VI obligation.”

In response, the school agreed to a review of its policies and increased training for all employees on following Title VI legal requirements.

Catherine E. Lhamon, OCR assistant secretary, said Lafayette’s “commitments today build on many laudable practices the college already had in place to support its campus community against discrimination, importantly bringing its responses in line with applicable Title VI legal requirements.”

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