[Washington, DC] -- Congressman Brad Sherman applauded Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for agreeing to return to its 2004 policy and applying Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to the protection of Jewish students from anti-Semitism on campuses.
“For two years, I have been pushing the U.S. Department of Education to adopt this policy, held numerous meetings with the Department’s officials, and conversations with Secretary Duncan. The policy is now clear: colleges and universities will no longer be permitted to turn a blind eye when Jewish students face severe and persistent anti-Semitic hostility on their campuses. The schools will now be compelled to respond.”
Congress passed Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect students from discriminatory harassment. Title VI prohibits discrimination based on “race, color, or national origin.” Unfortunately, the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education (OCR) had recently revised its policy and decided that Title VI does not apply to acts of discrimination against Jewish students, erroneously claiming that because Judaism is a religion that Jews do not constitute an ethnic group.
Recently, there have been multiple, unsettling incidents involving anti-Semitic epithets, slurs, obscenities and even physical violence towards students at American schools. These incidents include:
At the University of North Dakota, a student was harassed by fellow students with anti-Semitic slurs and was shot at with a pellet gun.
At the University of California at Irvine, a Holocaust memorial was destroyed; posters have depicted women in traditional Muslim garb saying “God bless Hitler;” swastikas have defaced campus property; and a Jewish student was told to “Go back to Russia where you came from.”
In response to these tragic events, Sherman began intense efforts to convince the Department of Education to return to its 2004 policy and protect Jewish students on campuses, including a letter of April 30, 2008 signed by 5 members of Congress. This policy change has been supported by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and Hillel, as well as the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the Anti-Defamation League and U.S. Senator Arlen Specter.
Sherman pledges to continue to work to protect Jewish students, and all Jews, from anti-Semitism.
The Department of Education also announced that it would use Title IX of the Civil Rights Act (which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex) to protect LGBT students, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act to protect students with disabilities from harassment on campus. Sherman applauds this decision.
Click here to read the letter to Secretary Duncan’s predecessor at the Department of Education Secretary Spellings, concerning the protection of Jewish students.