Protecting Jewish Students
Attorney Nathan Lewin provides useful examples of how Supreme Court decisions, donor lawsuits and Department of Justice investigations could be used to address acts of threatening behavior against Jewish students on college campuses (“Explaining the First Amendment to University Presidents,” Dec. 15). Another potential tool is the implementation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in federally assisted programs and activities, including nearly all public and private colleges and universities. Although “religion” is not stated in Title VI, Jewish students are protected based on their ethnic and ancestral background. When discrimination does occur, the school must adequately and promptly respond.
The U.S. Department of Education recently released a letter reminding schools of their legal obligations under Title VI to provide all students a school environment free from discrimination. Jewish students have filed administrative complaints or lawsuits against the University of Pennsylvania, New York University, Wellesley College and the University of California, Berkeley, alleging antisemitic discrimination in violation of Title VI, and many others are likely to follow. This has prompted the department to initiate investigations of antisemitism and anti-Muslim activities on school campuses.
Hopefully, these actions can force universities to take meaningful and long overdue actions to protect all their students.
Beryl Rosenstein, M.D.