newsSchools & Higher Education

US Ed Dept opens three Title VI investigations, including of Johns Hopkins

In addition to the private Maryland research university, the department is probing a Louisiana public school district and Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash.

Walkway and buildings at John Hopkins University in Baltimore. Credit: Jon Bilous/Shutterstock.
Walkway and buildings at John Hopkins University in Baltimore. Credit: Jon Bilous/Shutterstock.

The U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights named two universities and a public school district for potential violations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on shared ancestry, including antisemitism.

The subjects of new Title VI probes, the department announced on Feb. 13, are Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore; the Jefferson Parish School District in Harvey, La.; and Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash.

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog, said that it filed the complaint against Hopkins, which it alleged “hasn’t done enough to respond to antisemitism on campus, which is leaving Jewish students feeling ‘unwelcome and unsafe.’”

“We do not yet have full details of the complaint but will cooperate fully with the Office of Civil Rights as they review any allegations,” a Hopkins spokesperson told JNS, adding that Hopkins “abhors antisemitism and discrimination of any kind. We strive to foster a safe, respectful and inclusive environment for each member of our community.”

The nearly 150-year-old highly ranked private research university has “not been immune to the rise in religious hate that has occurred around the nation and the world in recent months,” the spokesperson said. “We, too, have seen an increase in reports of antisemitism and Islamophobia since last October, including incidents of antisemitic graffiti on our campuses.”

“We take these reports very seriously, and refer them for review and investigation by our Office of Institutional Equity,” the person said. “Since the attacks of Oct. 7, university leaders and staff have been in frequent communication with student groups and individual students, staff and faculty to hear how we can help our community feel supported and safe.”

Hopkins values its members’ academic freedom and right to free expression, including the right to “protest, demonstrate and share their views,” the spokesperson added. “At the same time, threats, acts of hate or discrimination, including religious discrimination, violate university policy and our student code of conduct and are antithetical to the values of the university.”

Jefferson Parish Schools and Pacific Lutheran University did not respond to requests for comment from JNS.

In the past, the Southern Poverty Law Center has alleged that the Louisiana school district has negatively impacted black and Latino students when it shuts educational facilities.

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