Press Release: StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice Files Title VI Complaint Against UC Davis

Federal complaint describes a pervasively hostile and antisemitic campus climate at UC Davis, details incidents of unlawful discrimination and harassment against Jews

(Davis, CA — April 1, 2024) – StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice (SCLJ) on April 1, 2024, filed a federal Title VI complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on behalf of Jewish students and other campus stakeholders at the University of California Davis who are the victims of a pervasively hostile and antisemitic campus climate.

The SCLJ complaint, which can be found online here, details extensive examples of antisemitic hostility and harassment targeting Jews, Israelis, and Zionists including during class, on social media by school organizations, in housing facilities, and more. The UC Davis leadership has met this conduct with indifference and a failure to enforce any policies to protect Jewish students. Jewish or Israeli students, actual or perceived, have also been physically assaulted at UC Davis with no known police investigation or follow up, no known administrative response, and no known compliance with federal hate crime law reporting. Antisemitic faculty are mistreating Jewish and Israeli students.

Such examples include:

  • A UC Davis Assistant Professor of American Studies, Jemma Decristo, who advocated killing journalists and their children if they support Israel. Decristo has yet to be disciplined by the university, according to public sources.
  • A UC Davis student punched in the face for questioning someone tearing down posters of Israeli hostages.
  • Antisemitic graffiti rampant on campus with no known effort by UC Davis to identify responsible parties and hold them accountable.
  • A Jewish student living in a UC Davis Student Community Co-op was asked to sign a housing contract requiring members to agree that Zionists are not welcome. The contract stipulates that residents who violate it will be removed from the house.
  • UC Davis Students for Justice in Palestine spreading antisemitic posts to intimidate Jewish students and other campus stakeholders.
  • A violent rally, co-sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), featured roughly 500 participants chanting genocidal slogans against Jews in Israel. Once the mob reached the main administrative building, the building was forced into lockdown. At least one masked rally attendee spray painted messages on the building and others violently pounded on the glass. There was no police presence at the rally, there were no barricades to ensure the safety of the community, and to SCLJ’s knowledge, there has been no action to hold the perpetrators accountable.
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The complaint details how students are hiding their Jewish identities on campus, skipping class at times, and losing sleep due to the hostile climate, without any action by the administration.

“Hillel at Davis and Sacramento has tried to work with the administration to protect Jewish and Israeli students on campus, but harassment and discrimination still run rampant at UC Davis,” said Hillel Board President Barry Klein. “We hope that this complaint will lead to the administration taking more effective actions to address these issues.” 

“UC Davis has neglected and ignored its Jewish and Israeli students’ complaints of rising campus antisemitism. In doing so, the school has allowed UC Davis to become a hotbed for anti-Jewish bigotry, failing their obligation under Title VI. This complaint details the administration’s indifference to antisemitism and calls on them to remedy the situation by committing to enforce their own policies and disciplining perpetrators of antisemitic conduct. UC Davis must be held accountable and Jewish, Israeli and Zionist students must be protected,” said Yael Lerman, SCLJ Director.

The SCLJ complaint asks OCR to fully investigate all incidents of antisemitic behavior at UC Davis; require the university to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism and be guided by this definition when addressing potential incidents of antisemitic discrimination; and require UC Davis to provide training regarding Jewish identity and antisemitism, including information about the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism and its examples, to administrators, faculty, and staff directly involved in processing, investigating, and/or resolving complaints and other reports of antisemitic discrimination or Israeli national origin discrimination.

 

About the StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice 
The StandWithUs Center For Legal Justice (SCLJ) is a tax-exempt membership organization that partners with StandWithUs, a nonprofit education organization dedicated to supporting Israel and combating antisemitism. Comprised of students in K-12 and college, professors, and community members, SCLJ enhances StandWithUs’ mission through impact litigation and other legal actions. www.swulegaljustice.org

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