The U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights is apparently investigating Rutgers University over the college's alleged response to anti-Semitism, according to the Huffington Post.
A complaint has been filed and vehemently defended by the Zionist Organization of America, a right-of-center Jewish advocacy group.
The complaint alleges that Jewish students at the college have been harassed, intimidated and discriminated against -- a clear violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Any institution that receives federal funding is supposed to ensure that no programs discriminate on a racial or ethnic basis; if recipients do not comply, they risk losing federal funding.
The ZOA alleges that the Outreach Coordinator for the college's Center for Middle East Studies harassed Aaron Marcus, a Jewish student, by posting an anti-Semitic comment on Facebook. The ZOA has more:
The Outreach Coordinator referred on Facebook to the Jewish student as “that racist Zionist pig!!!!!!!!” and encouraged others to “put his name in fb [Facebook] search . . . he has a fb hate page” – as if celebrating that there was a Facebook page with hateful comments about the Jewish student, and encouraging others to find it so that they could read the comments and post their own hateful messages.
Below, watch Marcus discuss the alleged discrimination as well as his take on the overall climate at Rutgers:
The ZOA essentially believes that the university didn't respond appropriately to the incident. A spokesperson for the U.S. Education Department confirmed to the Huffington Post that a complaint had been filed and that it is "currently under investigation. The probe was launched on October 26.
The initial complaint, which was filed in July, came as a result of students approaching the ZOA to discuss what they saw as an "increasingly hostile and anti-Semitic" environment. According to the ZOA, another Facebook comment read:
“As I was reading the . . . [Jewish student’s] column [in the Rutgers student paper] this morning, I realized how Im [sic] a pretty angry person. Id [sic] be happy to see him beat [sic] with a crow bar. Violence doesnt [sic] solve problems but it shuts up people who shoudnt [sic] speak.” At least seven of the writer's Facebook friends clicked “like” on this message, indicating their approval of the violent threat.
Apparently, seven individuals "liked" the comment on Facebook, apparently showing their agreement with its sentiments. Following these threats, the student reportedly took his name out of the Rutger's directory, sought out police protection and filed a bias report with the school. The ZOA claims that what happened next is indefensible.
The organization says that the university waited one month to act and that the offender was only given a warning. While the ZOA claims that it tried to resolve the issue internally, the group inevitably went to the government for help when these attempts failed.
Rutgers denies these claims, though, and says they're "not supported by the facts." Additionally, the university defended itself, saying that it has a long history of working with the Jewish community as well as a track record of promoting civility. With its official response, Rutgers apparently also included a video of the school's interfaith Thanksgiving. Watch it, below:
If the student's claims check out, the ZOA hopes that the employee at the center of the controversy will be fired, as the group says that it's important for all Jewish students to feel physically and emotionally safe.
(H/T: Huffington Post)