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January 19, 2021 9:57 am

Georgia Tech Embraces IHRA Definition of Antisemitism After Hillel Director Barred From ‘Palestine 101’ Event

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Recreation center on the Georgia Tech campus. Photo: Disavian / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.5

One year after allegations that the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) had refused to protect the civil rights of Jewish students and faculty on campus, the university has reached an agreement with the complainant and has adopted the leading definition of antisemitism.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), on behalf of Hillels of Georgia, had asked the US Department of Education to investigate whether Lauren Blazofsky, then the Georgia Tech Hillel director, was barred from a “Palestine 101” event because she was Jewish.

“Georgia Tech is pleased to announce that the parties have reached an agreement and the case is now closed,” the university said Tuesday morning. “We are committed to fostering thoughtful interaction, global perspective, and intercultural sensitivity, and we maintain a strong equal opportunity, nondiscrimination, and anti-harassment policy that applies to every member of the Institute community.”

“Anti-Semitism and any other forms of discrimination are not acceptable,” it continued, accepting the working definition of antisemitism of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

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“I am pleased with the outcome as it drives us toward a direction in which students can feel safe and protected on campus,” said Blazofsky, who is now Associate Director of Hillel at Emory University, to The Algemeiner. “Our goal all along was to ensure that Jewish students, along with any student on campus can rely on GT to protect them when faced with antisemitism or discrimination. We are happy to see that the University has recognized the IHRA definition of antisemitism, as it propels us to work together moving forward to educate the community about all forms of modern antisemitism.”

The Jan. 2020 complaint had charged Georgia Tech with failing to “confront antisemitism and protect the rights of Jewish students and faculty.” It came after an executive order signed by President Donald Trump affirmed that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act protects against “anti-Semitic discrimination based on race, color, or national origin” at colleges and universities.

Mark Goldfeder, the attorney who handled the case, told The Algemeiner, “I think both sides were very happy with the outcome. We are glad to have GA Tech as a partner in the fight against discrimination, and believe that a unified statement on this issue will help prevent any future instances of antisemitic behavior, and ensure that if something does happen it is dealt with appropriately.”

In adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism, Georgia Tech joins 35 countries and a growing number of universities and other institutions.

“Hillels of Georgia is pleased to resolve the Title VI complaint with the Georgia Institute of Technology,” said Elliot Karp, CEO of Hillels of Georgia, to The Algemeiner. “Our positive resolution benefits both Hillel and Georgia Tech. It protects the rights and interests of Jewish students and those of all students who should be free from any form of bigotry, injustice and discrimination on campus. We look forward to working in partnership and collaboration with Georgia Tech in sustaining a campus community that is open, welcome and inclusive for all.”

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