Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
US: Michigan, CUNY Failed to Assess Hostile Environment from Israel-Hamas War Protests
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 1 month ago on
June 17, 2024

The U.S. Education Department found that the University of Michigan and CUNY did not properly investigate if Israel-Hamas protests created hostile environments, leading to new oversight measures. (AP File)

Share

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

WASHINGTON — The University of Michigan and the City University of New York did not adequately investigate if campus protests in response to the Israel-Hamas war and other incidents created a hostile environment for students, faculty and staff, according to the results of investigations by the U.S. Education Department announced Monday.

The agreements are the first investigations to reach a conclusion among dozens launched by the Education Department since Oct. 7, the day Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel.

Investigation Found University Did Not Meet Requirements

The department’s Office of Civil Rights investigated 75 instances of alleged discrimination and harassment at the University of Michigan based on shared Jewish ancestry and shared Palestinian or Muslim ancestry. The investigation found that the university’s responses did not meet its Title VI requirements to remedy the hostile environment.

In one instance, when a Jewish student reported being called out for viewing a graduate student instructor’s social media post about pro-Palestinian topics, the university told the student that “formal conflict resolution is not a path forward at this time,” because the incident occurred on social media.

In another instance, when a student who participated in a pro-Palestinian protest was called a “terrorist,” the university said it held “restorative circles” to address the incident but did not take further action.

In its resolution agreement, the University of Michigan agreed to administer a climate assessment, implement additional training and revise its policies as necessary. It also agreed to monitoring by the Office of Civil Rights through the end of the 2026 school year, reporting its responses to future incidents of discrimination to the department.

Announced Nine Pending Complaints on CUNY

The department also announced the resolution of nine pending complaints against schools in the City University of New York system, dating back to the 2019-20 academic year.

Those incidents include harassment and disparate treatment of students based on shared Jewish, Palestinian, Arab, Muslim or South Asian ancestry.

The university system agreed to reopen or initiate investigations into discrimination complaints and provide the Office of Civil Rights with the results and report any remedial action the university would take. The resolution also included increased training for both employees and security officers on campus, as well as a climate survey and third-party review of non-discrimination policies.

The University of Michigan and CUNY did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the investigations’ results on Monday.

Complaints of antisemitism and Islamophobia have led to inquiries at more than 100 universities and school districts, including Harvard and Yale, community colleges and public schools from Los Angeles to suburban Minneapolis.

The complaints vary widely but all accuse schools of violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color or national origin. Colleges and schools are required to protect students from discrimination, and when they don’t, the Education Department can invoke penalties up to termination of federal money.

Some Universities Canceled Graduation Amid Protests

Protests over the Israel-Hamas war upended the final weeks of the school year at many campuses across the country, with some cancelling graduation ceremonies or moving classes online after Pro-Palestinian protesters set up encampments in campus spaces.

The protests have tested schools as they aim to balance free speech rights and the safety of students. The Education Department has issued guidance detailing schools’ responsibilities around Title VI, but the results of the agency’s investigations could provide a clearer line showing where political speech crosses into harassment.

Finding that boundary has been a struggle for colleges as they grapple with rhetoric that has different meaning to different people. Some chants commonly used by pro-Palestinian activists are seen by some as antisemitic, including “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “intifada revolution.”

Meanwhile, some complaints say Arab and Muslim students have faced abuses only to be ignored by campus officials. At Harvard, the Education Department is investigating separate complaints, one over alleged antisemitism and the other over alleged Islamophobia.

“Hate has no place on our college campuses — ever,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “Sadly, we have witnessed a series of deeply concerning incidents in recent months. There’s no question that this is a challenging moment for school communities across the country.”

Investigation to Resolve in Coming Weeks

More investigations are expected to be resolved in the coming weeks, but Cardona said his agency is struggling to keep up with the influx of cases.

Republicans have rejected requests to increase money for the Office for Civil Rights in recent years, while the average case load increased to 42 per investigator in 2023. Without more money, that figure could increase to more than 70 cases per investigator, Cardona has said.

“We are desperately in need of additional support to make sure we can investigate the cases that we have in front of us,” Cardona told members of the House in May.

On average, cases take about six to eight months to resolve. The vast majority of the agency’s civil rights investigations end with voluntary resolutions. Schools usually promise to resolve any lingering problems and take steps to protect students in the future.

While the Education Department investigates, several colleges and school districts have separately been called before Congress to answer allegations of antisemitism. Republicans have held a series of hearings on the issue, grilling leaders accused of tolerating antisemitism.

The hearings contributed to the resignations of some college leaders, including Liz Magill at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard’s Claudine Gay, who was also embroiled in accusations of plagiarism.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

49ers GM: We Have No Intention of Dealing Brandon Aiyuk

DON'T MISS

Reality Show Contestant Apologizes After Eating Protected Bird

DON'T MISS

Wildfires Send About 25,000 Fleeing From Canadian Rockies’ Largest National Park and Nearby Town

DON'T MISS

Surprise Blast of Rock, Water and Steam Sends Dozens Running for Safety in Yellowstone

DON'T MISS

Review: Candlelight Delivers an Enchanting Performance

DON'T MISS

Fresno State’s All-Time Sacks Leader Will Be Inducted Into Football Ring of Honor

DON'T MISS

Watch Out, Fresno. That ‘Summer Cold’ Might Be COVID.

DON'T MISS

Tesla’s Profit Fell 45% in Second Quarter on Weak EV Sales

DON'T MISS

Israeli Authorities Announce Largest Land Seizure in 30 Years

DON'T MISS

Trump Announces He Will Meet with Netanyahu on Friday at Mar-a-Lago

UP NEXT

Reality Show Contestant Apologizes After Eating Protected Bird

UP NEXT

Wildfires Send About 25,000 Fleeing From Canadian Rockies’ Largest National Park and Nearby Town

UP NEXT

Surprise Blast of Rock, Water and Steam Sends Dozens Running for Safety in Yellowstone

UP NEXT

Fresno State’s All-Time Sacks Leader Will Be Inducted Into Football Ring of Honor

UP NEXT

Watch Out, Fresno. That ‘Summer Cold’ Might Be COVID.

UP NEXT

Tesla’s Profit Fell 45% in Second Quarter on Weak EV Sales

UP NEXT

Israeli Authorities Announce Largest Land Seizure in 30 Years

UP NEXT

Trump Announces He Will Meet with Netanyahu on Friday at Mar-a-Lago

UP NEXT

Fresno Wants to Expand Radio Park. Will It Force a Convenience Store to Sell?

UP NEXT

Clip Resurfaces of Vance Criticizing Harris for Being ‘Childless,’ Testing Trump’s New Running Mate

Surprise Blast of Rock, Water and Steam Sends Dozens Running for Safety in Yellowstone

6 hours ago

Review: Candlelight Delivers an Enchanting Performance

6 hours ago

Fresno State’s All-Time Sacks Leader Will Be Inducted Into Football Ring of Honor

8 hours ago

Watch Out, Fresno. That ‘Summer Cold’ Might Be COVID.

8 hours ago

Tesla’s Profit Fell 45% in Second Quarter on Weak EV Sales

8 hours ago

Israeli Authorities Announce Largest Land Seizure in 30 Years

8 hours ago

Trump Announces He Will Meet with Netanyahu on Friday at Mar-a-Lago

8 hours ago

Fresno Wants to Expand Radio Park. Will It Force a Convenience Store to Sell?

9 hours ago

Clip Resurfaces of Vance Criticizing Harris for Being ‘Childless,’ Testing Trump’s New Running Mate

9 hours ago

Is California Ready for Its Close-Up? Trump Will Demonize the State and Harris

9 hours ago

49ers GM: We Have No Intention of Dealing Brandon Aiyuk

SANTA CLARA — The San Francisco 49ers have no intention of granting star receiver Brandon Aiyuk his trade request and remain committed to ge...

6 hours ago

6 hours ago

49ers GM: We Have No Intention of Dealing Brandon Aiyuk

6 hours ago

Reality Show Contestant Apologizes After Eating Protected Bird

6 hours ago

Wildfires Send About 25,000 Fleeing From Canadian Rockies’ Largest National Park and Nearby Town

6 hours ago

Surprise Blast of Rock, Water and Steam Sends Dozens Running for Safety in Yellowstone

6 hours ago

Review: Candlelight Delivers an Enchanting Performance

8 hours ago

Fresno State’s All-Time Sacks Leader Will Be Inducted Into Football Ring of Honor

Photo of an antibody blood tube
8 hours ago

Watch Out, Fresno. That ‘Summer Cold’ Might Be COVID.

8 hours ago

Tesla’s Profit Fell 45% in Second Quarter on Weak EV Sales

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend