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Seven Institutions Under Investigation for Allegations of Antisemitism and Islamophobia

by Chloe Baker
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The U.S. federal government is conducting civil rights investigations into seven educational institutions, including three Ivy League universities — Columbia, Cornell, and the University of Pennsylvania. This action, initiated since the recent Israel-Hamas conflict, also involves Wellesley College, Lafayette College, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and the Maize Unified School District in Kansas.

These investigations, announced by the Education Department, are part of the Biden administration’s robust approach to combating discrimination. Educational institutions that breach civil rights laws may face severe consequences, including the potential loss of federal funding. However, these cases often conclude with voluntary settlements.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona emphasized the legal responsibility of schools to protect students from harassment based on their Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Sikh, or other ethnic identities.

The inquiries, focusing on five allegations of antisemitic harassment and two of anti-Muslim harassment, do not specify the accusations against each institution. The Brandeis Center, a Jewish legal advocacy group, has filed federal complaints accusing Penn and Wellesley of antisemitism. The complaints allege that at Penn, some professors have made antisemitic remarks and Jewish students feel unsafe during pro-Palestinian rallies. Penn has affirmed its commitment to combating antisemitism.

Wellesley College faced criticism for an email from dorm advisers opposing Zionism, for which they later apologized. The college has denied any misconduct, stating it addressed the incident promptly.

Lafayette College expressed uncertainty about the reasons for its investigation but reiterated its stance against antisemitism, Islamophobia, and hate speech.

Maize Unified School District, not having received a copy of the complaint, affirmed its commitment to addressing any discrimination allegations.

The investigations aim to ensure compliance with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which mandates protection from discrimination based on ethnicity or shared ancestry.

These inquiries, commenced recently, are part of broader efforts to address rising tensions and reported harassment on U.S. campuses, particularly surrounding the Israel-Hamas conflict. Incidents at Columbia, Cornell, and Cooper Union highlight the escalating campus tensions.

Additionally, the Education Department has been proactive in reminding universities of their obligations under the Civil Rights Act and engaging with leaders of Muslim,

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