The Department of Education is investigating six more universities for discrimination on campus


The Department of Education announced investigations into six more colleges and universities on Tuesday, joining a growing list of institutions the agency is examining for complaints of campus discrimination.

The schools named by the department were Stanford, the University of California-Los Angeles, the University of California-San Diego, the University of Washington-Seattle, Rutgers University in New Jersey and Whitman College in Washington state.

The investigations into some of the West Coast's most prominent institutions come weeks after the Department of Education opened similar investigations into several elite East Coast schools, including Harvard, Cornell, Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania.

Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the department routinely investigates complaints against universities alleging discrimination based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.

The agency periodically examines complaints of all types under Title VI against smaller public school districts and large research universities, but clashes on college campuses since the outbreak of violence in Israel and Gaza have produced a flurry of new investigations since October.

As of this week, 21 of the 29 investigations the department has opened at post-secondary schools this year have occurred since the initial Hamas attack on October 7.

In a news release about the previous batch of investigations announced in November, the department described its efforts as part of a broader directive to “take aggressive steps to address the alarming nationwide rise in reports of anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and other “. forms of discrimination and harassment on university campuses and in K-12 schools since the October 7 conflict between Israel and Hamas.”

As with other recent investigations, it was not immediately clear what incident prompted the complaints to the department that prompted it to act. An agency spokesperson declined to elaborate on the nature of any of the complaints Wednesday, citing a policy against discussing pending investigations.

But since October 7, a series of incidents and disputes on campus have affected many of the schools in question.

In November, Michael V. Drake, president of the University of California, along with 10 of the university network's presidents, published a letter attacking anti-Semitic and Islamophobic rhetoric at campus protests.

“We write today to condemn the alarming and deeply disappointing acts of bigotry, bigotry, and intimidation we have seen on our campuses over these past weeks,” the letter said.

Shortly afterward, hundreds of University of California faculty and students wrote a letter calling on Richard Leib, chairman of the university's Board of Regents, to resign over social media posts that the letter's authors described as “dangerously dangerous.” “unilateral.” and alienating for Arab students and Palestinian activist groups.

At Stanford, more than 2,000 alumni signed an open letter to university leaders accusing them of failing to curb “growing expressions of hate and persecution” against the university's Jewish community.

Dee Mostofi, a Stanford spokesperson, said the university intended to “work cooperatively with the Office for Civil Rights in investigating this complaint.”

Last week, Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., sent a letter to the president of Rutgers criticizing an on-campus event for “providing a platform” for “known anti-Semites.”

Rutgers also briefly suspended the Newark chapter of the Rutgers Law School student bar association in November after the association moved to expel an Orthodox Jewish member. And on Monday, the university suspended the New Brunswick campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, a group that has been suspended at other schools, including Columbia, over what its student leaders said were “nebulous and baseless complaints.” ” and an “attempt to combine protected speech activity with violence.”

A Rutgers spokeswoman said Wednesday that the school was notified this week that the Department of Education had opened an investigation into “alleged incidents of harassment in October and November 2023 of students based on their national origin (shared Jewish ancestry and/or Israel). . .”

Spokeswoman Dory Devlin said the school would “certainly cooperate fully.”

Rutgers has the second-largest Jewish population of any American public university, after the University of Florida, according to Hillel International, the world's largest Jewish university organization.

“I have spoken to Jewish students who feel unsafe,” said Gary L. Francione, a professor on the Board of Governors at Rutgers Law School.

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