US Education Department Initiates Investigation Into Harvard Over Antisemitism Claims

United States North America Higher Education News by Erudera News Dec 01, 2023

Harvard University in spring

The US Department of Education has initiated an investigation this week into Harvard University following allegations of antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus.

The Department is also investigating several other US colleges and universities for similar concerns, Erudera.com reports.

According to a letter obtained by The Boston Globe, the federal agency opened the investigation in response to a complaint claiming that Harvard failed to address incidents of harassment against Jewish and Israeli students occurring on campus last month.

The news comes a few days before Harvard president Claudine Gay appears before Congress for a hearing on antisemitism on campus, along with MIT president Sally Kornbluth and University of Pennsylvania president Liz Magill.

Harvard and other educational institutions have recently been criticized for handling student protests, leading to Harvard President Claudine Gay, University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth being called to testify before the committee.

The congressional hearing is expected to be held on Tuesday and will be led by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

While confirming the investigation for CBC News, the Department has not disclosed any other details.

Commenting on the events, the US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said that these investigations demonstrate the serious work of the Biden-Harris administration to protect students from discrimination and hatred.

“Hate has no place in our schools, period. When students are targeted because they are—or are perceived to be—Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Sikh, or any other ethnicity or shared ancestry, schools must act to ensure safe and inclusive educational environments where everyone is free to learn,” Cardona said.

In a letter sent to Harvard’s community earlier this month, President Gay highlighted that Harvard had established an Antisemitism Advisory Group to understand the manifestation of antisemitism on campus and make a comprehensive plan acknowledging its historical context. She said antisemitism has no place at the university.

“Antisemitism has no place at Harvard. While confronting any form of hatred is daunting, the challenges we face tackling antisemitism are made all the more so by its pernicious nature and deep historical roots. But we are committed to doing the hard work to address this scourge,” she said.

This investigation comes amid several incidents reported at US schools following the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas - the Palestinian militant group, that started on October 7.

Other universities that are currently under investigation for the same reasons include the following:

  • University of Tampa
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Lafayette College
  • Wellesley College
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Oberlin College
  • Florida State University
  • George Washington University
  • Duke University

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