US Department of Education to Investigate Antisemitism Allegations at University of Vermont
September 14, 2022
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has opened a formal investigation into a complaint alleging that Jewish students at the University of Vermont (UVM) have faced “severe and persistent antisemitic harassment and discrimination” at the school, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and Jewish on Campus (JOC) said on Tuesday.
“Anti-Jewish incidents ranged from the exclusion of Jewish students from a campus sexual assault survivors’ group, online harassment against Jewish students by a teaching assistant (TA), and the targeting of the UVM Hillel building,” the Brandeis Center and JOC — who jointly filed the complaint — noted.
The complaint pointed out, “All of these incidents … have been reported to the UVM administration. In addition, on information and belief, on multiple occasions, UVM students have met with UVM administrators and shared stories with them of how the students have been personally harassed and harmed by the hostile antisemitic environment on campus. To date, however, the university has taken no steps to rectify the situation.”
“The University of Vermont is permitting a hostile environment that marginalizes and excludes Jewish students for whom Zionism is integral to their Jewish identity,” it continued. “In doing so, UVM is denying equal access to educational opportunities and services to Jewish students on the basis of their shared ancestry and ethnicity in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
The complaint can be read in full here.
Brandeis Center President Alyza Lewin told The Associated Press, “It can’t be that today, the only community that’s not welcomed to bring their full identity to the table are the Jews. And that’s what’s happening now at the University of Vermont, is that they’re saying to everyone, ‘We welcome you to our table with your full identity, except the Jews.'”
UVM said it was aware of the investigation and would provide the OCR will a full response to the allegations.
“UVM seeks to foster a culture of inclusiveness for all students, faculty, and staff, including members of our Jewish community, and does not tolerate acts of bias or discrimination related to religion, race, culture, gender, or sexual orientation on our campus,” a UVM spokesperson stated.
A similar complaint was filed by the Brandeis Center and JOC last month on behalf of two Jewish students at the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz.
The OCR is already investigating complaints filed by the Brandeis Center against the University of Illinois, Brooklyn College, and University of Southern California. And the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is investigating a Brandeis Center employment discrimination complaint of antisemitism in the DEI program at Stanford University.