Half of Ivy League schools now face federal civil rights investigations for antisemitism
The U.S. Department of Education has added Harvard University to its list of schools that are under investigation for possible civil rights violations as students have reported antisemitic incidents amid the Israel-Hamas war.
The Cambridge campus is now under the federal microscope for potential discrimination following antisemitism complaints since Hamas’ terrorist attacks on Oct. 7.
One notable incident on campus involved pro-Palestinian protesters surrounding a Jewish student, which led to reports being filed with the FBI and Harvard Police.
On Tuesday, Harvard was added to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights list of the higher education and K-12 institutions under investigation for alleged shared ancestry violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Title VI prohibits race, color, or national origin discrimination, including harassment based on a person’s shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.
“The Department’s Office of Civil Rights confirms a pending investigation of Harvard University,” a U.S. Department of Education spokesperson said in a statement to the Boston Herald on Tuesday.
“The Department does not comment on pending investigations,” the spokesperson added.
Following Hamas’ deadly terrorist attacks against Israel, dozens of Harvard student groups wrote an explosive letter that blamed Israel solely for the attacks. Then, student group members who signed on to the letter were doxxed.
Pro-Palestinian protesters on campus have held banners and chanted phrases that call for the end of Israel.
After the Jewish student was accosted by pro-Palestinian protesters, the Harvard Business School dean said the incident “left many of our students shaken.”
“The pro-Palestinian demonstration that crossed from Cambridge onto our campus last Wednesday, which included a troubling confrontation between one of our MBA students and a subset of the protesters, has left many of our students shaken,” Dean Srikant Datar wrote in October.
“Reports have been filed with HUPD and the FBI, the facts are being evaluated, and it will be some time before we learn the results of an investigation,” the dean added. “But the protest has raised questions about how we address freedom of speech, hateful speech that goes against our community values, and security and safety for everyone at the School.”
Meanwhile, the leaders of Harvard, MIT and UPenn will be speaking next week at a Congressional hearing called “Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism.”
“Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen countless examples of antisemitic demonstrations on college campuses. Meanwhile, college administrators have largely stood by, allowing horrific rhetoric to fester and grow,” North Carolina Congresswoman Virginia Foxx said in a statement.
“College and university presidents have a responsibility to foster and uphold a safe learning environment for their students and staff,” the Republican added. “Now is not a time for indecision or milquetoast statements. By holding this hearing, we are shining the spotlight on these campus leaders and demanding they take the appropriate action to stand strong against antisemitism.”
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