The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced on Tuesday that it has opened a formal investigation into a complaint alleging that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has allowed a hostile environment to proliferate on its campus in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The complaint, filed in accordance with the December 2019 executive order on combating anti-Semitism, was publicized last month.

“All Jewish college students deserve the right to learn and live in a safe, welcoming environment, free of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel harassment,” said Mark Rotenberg, Hillel International’s vice president for university initiatives and legal affairs, in a statement. “As we continue to work collaboratively with our colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to address the problem of anti-Semitism on campus, we appreciate this step taken by OCR to ensure that the rights of our students to a campus free of harassment and discrimination are protected.”

Alyza D. Lewin, president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, which, along with Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, filed the complaint in March, said in a statement, “Jewish and pro-Israel students have been subjected to anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist harassment for far too long. We are very appreciative of OCR’s careful review of the complaint and correct determination of the necessity of a thorough and comprehensive investigation. This significant and critical development reaffirms the seriousness of the harassment and discrimination Jewish students face on a regular basis, and the importance of ongoing action by the university.”

On Monday, the university, in coordination with the Jewish community, announced its commitment to address an alarming increase in anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist harassment and discrimination on its campus.

The statement came in response to anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist incidents at the university over the past few years, as outlined in the complaint.

The statement is independent of the complaint and does not impact it, Hillel International spokesperson Matthew Berger told JNS on Monday.

Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision

One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.

JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.

Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.