On Thursday, the Department of Education released a new list of K-12 and higher education institutions they are looking into after receiving reports of antisemitism and Islamophobia.
Lafayette College, Cornell University, Columbia University, Wellesley College, the University of Pennsylvania, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, and the Maize Unified School District in Kansas are the seven institutions currently under inquiry as of November 16. Antisemitic harassment is alleged in five complaints, while harassment against Muslims is alleged in two.
Since the Hamas attacks on Israel in October, tensions on college campuses have been high, and leaders of significant Jewish organisations have asked officials in the Biden administration to adopt an assertive, proactive approach to resolving the occurrences. Some schools have even experienced physical violence, and some students have even reported feeling scared to go to school for fear of harassment.
“When students are targeted because they are — or are perceived to be — Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Sikh, or any other ethnicity or shared ancestry, schools must act to ensure safe and inclusive educational environments where everyone is free to learn,” said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in a statement released Thursday night. These probes show that the U.S. Department of Education and the Biden-Harris administration take their duty to shield kids from bigotry and prejudice very seriously.
Jewish, Muslim, Arab, and Sikh community leaders have spent weeks meeting with Biden administration officials, all of whom report an unparalleled level of worry in their communities ever since the 9/11. According to the Education Department this week, Muslim, Arab, and Sikh leaders have cited a “extremely disturbing pattern of hate and threats of violence in schools and college campuses.”
The Education Department has committed to maintaining a weekly update of its Office for Civil Rights website with information about ongoing investigations. Civil Rights Assistant Secretary Catherine Lhamon, however, stressed that an investigation into a school “does not reflect a conclusion that the law has been violated.”
Title VI is a federal legislation that prohibits bias and discrimination on the basis of race, colour, and national origin in programmes and activities that receive government funding. Violating schools risk losing federal money if they are not brought into compliance.