JNS Article- Ed Department probing Lehigh University for ‘pervasively hostile’ campus for Jews, Israelis

The department’s Office for Civil Rights is probing the Pennsylvania school over alleged violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

(April 2, 2024/JNS)– The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced on Tuesday that it is investigating Lehigh University, a private research school in Bethlehem, Pa., for potential violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The investigation relates to “discrimination involving shared ancestry,” according to the department. The department, which releases a list weekly of new investigations, does not state the specific allegations.

JNS sought comment from Lehigh. After this article ran, a university spokeswoman told JNS that “Lehigh University is unwavering in our commitment to fostering an inclusive campus community, free of hate and antisemitism. We support the work of the Office for Civil Rights and will participate fully in its investigation.”

As a member of the Hillel International Campus Climate Initiative, Lehigh is committed to combating antisemitism through allyship and action as part of broader efforts to address hate and bias on college campuses, and within our own community,” the spokeswoman added.

The StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice stated on Tuesday that the Education Department notified it that it was investigating the complaint that the membership organization filed on Feb. 27.

“We are proud of the courageous students who have come forward to share their experiences of anti-Jewish bigotry at Lehigh and who are taking action to hold the administration accountable to its obligations to protect its Jewish and Israeli students from harassment and discrimination based on their shared ancestry and national origin,” stated Gadi Dotz, assistant director of the StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice.

“We are hopeful that OCR’s investigation will reward these students’ efforts by requiring the Lehigh administration to take the necessary steps to remedy the hostile antisemitic climate on its campus,” Dotz added.

Lehigh, which enrolls more than 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students, is tied at No. 47 in the U.S. News & World Report rankings of national universities. The 160-year-old institution is an hour’s drive from the city of Philadelphia.

The Lehigh administration and campus police have “failed to curb the increasingly hostile climate for Jewish and Israeli students on campus,” StandWithUs and Alums for Campus Fairness wrote to the school on Jan. 8.

About the StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice
StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice (SCLJ) is a tax-exempt membership organization that partners with the StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department, a division of StandWithUs, a nonprofit education organization dedicated to supporting Israel and combating antisemitism. Comprised of students, professors, and community members, SCLJ enhances StandWithUs’ mission through impact litigation and other legal actions. Learn more at www.swulegaljustice.org.
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