(NationalUSNews.com) — The Department of Education has added Harvard to the list of schools to be investigated over complaints of discrimination involving shared ancestry, which would violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The DOE has 57 open cases of Title VI complaints, with several institutions having multiple investigations against them concurrently.
Columbia University, Duke University, Rutgers University, George Washington University, University of California – Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California all have at least two active investigations. Since the October 7th attack on Israel by Hamas, there have been protests at many universities as well as reports of antisemitism and Islamophobic incidents. In November, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said that he expects there will be more investigations.
Harvard’s inclusion in the Title VI investigations is due to a complaint that alleges that they discriminated against students of Jewish and/or Israeli origin by failing to “respond appropriately” to reports of harassment. Harvard President Claudine Gay says that the university has created the Anti-Semitism Advisory Group, whose purpose is to address such incidents. The group will be made up of students, faculty, alumni, and community leaders.
President Gay added that “antisemitism has no place at Harvard.” Her comments may be a response to several Harvard student groups making a public statement blaming Israel entirely for the October 7 massacre. Many Jewish students said the statement made them feel isolated and scared. The students who released the statement have since denied supporting Hamas and claimed they have received death threats, among other hateful retaliation.
While the DOE says they cannot release details about ongoing investigations, they have recently updated their discrimination complaint form to specify that Title VI’s protections that protect against discrimination based on race, color, or national origin also include discrimination based on being or being perceived as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Sikh, or any other shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics. They are also planning to release a series of webinars sometime in December to help schools and community-based organizations develop strategies to prevent and respond to hate-based harassment, bullying, and threats. Schools that do not comply with Title VI may be in danger of losing any federal funding they may receive.
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