Feds investigate 7 schools over allegations of antisemitism, Islamophobia—including 3 Ivy League colleges

Must read

Buyers of EVs with batteries from China get dinged under new Biden administration rules for tax credits

The government proposed new rules Friday that could make it harder for electric vehicles to qualify for a full $7,500 federal tax credit, complicating...

Even the U.S. president’s return-to-office push is being ignored by workers: ‘They aren’t coming back’

Plenty of CEOs have been fuming about workers ignoring return-to-office mandates. At some companies, including Amazon, managers now have the green light to fire...

Jerome Powell dispels Wall Street’s dream of near-term interest rate cuts by arguing it would be ‘premature’ while leaving the door open to more...

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell pushed back against Wall Street’s growing expectations of interest-rate cuts in the first half of 2024, saying the committee...

Rep. George Santos becomes only the 6th Congress member in U.S. history to be expelled from his job by colleagues

The House voted on Friday to expel Republican Rep. George Santos of New York after a critical ethics report on his conduct that accused...

The federal government has opened civil rights investigations into seven schools and universities over allegations of antisemitism or Islamophobia since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.

The list includes three Ivy League institutions — Columbia, Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania — along with Wellesley College in Massachusetts, Lafayette College in Pennsylvania and Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York. It also includes one K-12 system, the Maize Unified School District in Kansas.

The Education Department announced the inquiries on Thursday, calling it part of the Biden administration’s effort to take “aggressive action” against discrimination. Schools found to have violated civil rights law can face penalties up to a total loss of federal money, although the vast majority of cases end in voluntary settlements.

Schools have a legal duty to act “when students are targeted because they are — or are perceived to be — Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Sikh or any other ethnicity or shared ancestry,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a written statement.

Five of the investigations are in response to allegations of antisemitic harassment, while two are in response to allegations of anti-Muslim harassment, the department said. The agency did not disclose which schools faced which accusations. Details about individual complaints were not released.

Most schools either declined to speak on the investigations or did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Officials at Lafayette said it was unclear to them why their school was being investigated.

“The College maintains a firm stance against antisemitism, Islamophobia, and hate speech of any kind. The College is cooperating and will continue to cooperate fully with the DOE in their investigation,” the college said in a written statement.

The schools are being investigated for possible discrimination based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, which violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The federal law requires schools to protect students from discrimination and respond to harassment that creates a hostile environment. Anyone can file a complaint alleging such discrimination.

All of the investigations were opened Wednesday or Thursday. An updated list of investigations will be released each week, the department said.

Emotions over the Israel-Hamas war have been running high on many campuses around the U.S. At Columbia, for one, tensions have been escalating amid dueling demonstrations by pro-Israel activists and by Palestinian students and their allies.

At Cornell, a student was arrested last month after posting threatening statements against Jewish people. Some Jewish students at Cooper Union say the school failed to protect them during an October pro-Palestine demonstration that left Jewish students sheltering in a campus library.

Palestinian and Muslim students have also reported increased harassment on campuses across the country. At Columbia, students protested this week after the school suspended two pro-Palestinian groups that have come under scrutiny on U.S. campuses.

“We at the Department of Education, like the nation, see the fear students and school communities experience as hate proliferates in schools,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary of civil rights for the department.

The investigations are the Biden administration’s latest action to press colleges into action. Last week the Education Department sent universities a letter reminding them of their legal obligations under the Civil Rights Act. Cardona has recently met with leaders of Muslim, Arab and Jewish groups to discuss discrimination on campuses.

Along with complaints filed with the Education Department, some students have filed lawsuits alleging civil rights violations. Three Jewish students at New York University sued the school this week, saying it failed to address persistent antisemitism that has worsened since the Oct. 7 incursion of Israel by Hamas militants.

___

The Associated Press education team receives support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Subscribe to raceAhead, our weekly newsletter on race, culture, and inclusive leadership. Sign up for free.

More articles

Latest article

Buyers of EVs with batteries from China get dinged under new Biden administration rules for tax credits

The government proposed new rules Friday that could make it harder for electric vehicles to qualify for a full $7,500 federal tax credit, complicating...

Even the U.S. president’s return-to-office push is being ignored by workers: ‘They aren’t coming back’

Plenty of CEOs have been fuming about workers ignoring return-to-office mandates. At some companies, including Amazon, managers now have the green light to fire...

Jerome Powell dispels Wall Street’s dream of near-term interest rate cuts by arguing it would be ‘premature’ while leaving the door open to more...

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell pushed back against Wall Street’s growing expectations of interest-rate cuts in the first half of 2024, saying the committee...

Rep. George Santos becomes only the 6th Congress member in U.S. history to be expelled from his job by colleagues

The House voted on Friday to expel Republican Rep. George Santos of New York after a critical ethics report on his conduct that accused...

The case for unlocking the power of disability inclusion

My mom has multiple sclerosis. She was diagnosed when I was just 10 years old. I remember thinking then, and many times since, that she...