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February 4, 2022 4:30 pm
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Biden Said to Continue Delay of New Title VI Protections for Jewish College Students

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Students and pedestrians walk through the Yard at Harvard University, after the school asked its students not to return to campus after Spring Break and said it would move to virtual instruction for graduate and undergraduate classes, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S., March 10, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

A delay over new guidance at the US Department of Education that would help protect Jewish college students from discrimination is set to continue through December of this year, according to a report by eJewish Philanthropy.

In December 2019, former President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order on Combating Antisemitism that directed the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to apply Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (1964) to complaints of discrimination against Jews and base them on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism.

The Department of Education initially pledged to issue new regulations based on the order in September 2020, but later said it would happen in January 2021. After President Joe Biden was sworn in on January 20, the administration embraced the IHRA working definition, but has since postponed action on the order to December 2022, eJP reported — leading to speculation around whether it objects to the order’s treatment of antisemitic criticism of Israel.

The delay, the outlet said, is especially discernible considering recent OCR inquiries of antisemitism at several colleges and universities and a rise in antisemitism at schools across the country.

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On Thursday, a legal advocacy group revealed that the OCR is investigating complaints of a hostile environment for Jewish students at a master’s program at Brooklyn College, where they were allegedly pressured to identify as white and thus be excluded from discussions about social justice.

The office is also is investigating the placing of Jewish Stanford University faculty and staff in segregated discussion groups for white participants, against their objections.

Leaders representing Jewish advocacy groups across the country told eJP that they are hopeful that the Biden administration will act soon.

“If the administration is encouraging foreign governments and international organizations to adopt the IHRA definition with their right hand, it would be pretty complicated for them with their left hand to state the exact opposite,” William Daroff, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told the outlet.

In a statement to the outlet, an OCR spokesperson confirmed that it “opened up multiple investigations into allegations of discrimination based on shared Jewish ancestry at postsecondary institutions,” but declined commenting on the Title VI regulation delay.

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