Education Department Investigates Seven Schools For Antisemitism And Islamophobia

The Department of Education is conducting investigations into U.S. colleges and schools following reports of antisemitism and Islamophobia, marking the first such actions since the Israel-Hamas war began.

The department, invoking Title IV, which prohibits discrimination based on race or shared ancestry, has initiated the investigations. Currently, seven schools, including Cornell University in Ithaca, New York; Columbia University in New York City and the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, are under scrutiny for five antisemitism cases and two Islamophobia cases.

Should the investigations establish that schools breached the law, potential consequences include the loss of federal funding or referral to the U.S. Department of Justice for additional measures.

Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona stated in an ABC News interview on Friday, “Ultimately, removal of federal dollars is something that can happen, but that would require someone to refuse to create safe learning environments. That’s not the culture that we have on our campuses. The goal is not to punish students by withdrawing money from universities. That’s never the goal. The goal is to create safe learning environments.”

The surge in complaints to the Office of Civil Rights, reaching record numbers in recent weeks, coincides with heightened tensions on campuses amid the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. In response, the Biden administration issued a letter last week reminding schools that, to maintain federal funding, they are legally obligated to “address prohibited discrimination against students and others on your campus – including those who are or are perceived to be Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab or Palestinian.”

Since the terrorist group Hamas initiated an unexpected attack on Israel on October 7, causing thousands of casualties, Israel responded with a bombing campaign and a complete blockade of the adjacent Gaza Strip.

Additional schools under investigation include Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts; Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania; the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York, New York and the Maize Unified School District in Maize, Kansas.

Due to the substantial surge in complaints in recent weeks, it’s likely the list of investigations will grow.

Secretary Cardona remarked, “I foresee more ongoing investigations. This indicates a rise, suggesting concerns from individuals feeling unsafe, and it is our duty to thoroughly investigate the issue.”