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November 18, 2020 10:29 am

US Education Department to Investigate Antisemitism at University of Illinois

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The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). Photo: Wikimedia Commons. – The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced on Tuesday that it has opened a formal investigation into a complaint alleging that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has allowed a hostile environment to proliferate on its campus in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The complaint, filed in accordance with the December 2019 executive order on combating antisemitism, was publicized last month.

“All Jewish college students deserve the right to learn and live in a safe, welcoming environment, free of antisemitism and anti-Israel harassment,” said Mark Rotenberg, Hillel International’s vice president for university initiatives and legal affairs, in a statement. “As we continue to work collaboratively with our colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to address the problem of antisemitism on campus, we appreciate this step taken by OCR to ensure that the rights of our students to a campus free of harassment and discrimination are protected.”

Alyza D. Lewin, president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, which, along with Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, filed the complaint in March, said in a statement, “Jewish and pro-Israel students have been subjected to anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist harassment for far too long. We are very appreciative of OCR’s careful review of the complaint and correct determination of the necessity of a thorough and comprehensive investigation. This significant and critical development reaffirms the seriousness of the harassment and discrimination Jewish students face on a regular basis, and the importance of ongoing action by the university.”

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On Monday, the university, in coordination with the Jewish community, announced its commitment to address an alarming increase in antisemitic and anti-Zionist harassment and discrimination on its campus.

The statement came in response to antisemitic and anti-Zionist incidents at the university over the past few years, as outlined in the complaint.

The statement is independent of the complaint and does not impact it, Hillel International spokesperson Matthew Berger told JNS on Monday.

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