Press Release: StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice’s Federal Complaint Filed Against Lehigh University Opened for Investigation

Federal complaint describes a pervasively hostile campus climate for Jewish and Israeli students at Lehigh University alongside an indifferent administration.

(Bethlehem, PA – April 2, 2024) – StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice (SCLJ) on April 2, 2024, learned that the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has opened an investigation into Lehigh University in response to SCLJ’s federal Title VI complaint filed on behalf of Jewish, Israeli and Zionist students.
 
On January 8, 2024, the nonprofit organization StandWithUs and Alums for Campus Fairness sent a legal demand letter to Lehigh University detailing a hostile antisemitic climate on its campus and requesting that the administration take concrete steps to ensure the protection of its Jewish, Israeli and Zionist students. In particular, the letter alleged that administration showed disparate treatment toward Jewish students by applying double standards in responding to complaints of campus antisemitism compared to its treatment of complaints about other forms of bigotry. Rather than providing assurances that the incidents raised in the StandWithUs/ACF letter would be duly investigated and addressed, Lehigh’s response denied culpability and failed to offer any commitment to comply with its legal obligations. In fact, events occurring just one week prior to SCLJ’s filing demonstrated that Lehigh continues to fail in even the basic requirement of enforcing its own campus policies so as to deter or punish acts of antisemitism.  
 
On February 27, 2024, SCLJ filed a Title VI complaint against Lehigh with OCR. SCLJ requested that OCR conduct a mediation between the parties to address the antisemitism problem at Lehigh. OCR notified SCLJ on April 2 that it has opened the Title VI complaint for full investigation. According to OCR’s Case Processing Manual, this likely indicates that the Lehigh administration was not interested in participating in mediation.
 
“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,” said Gadi Dotz, SCLJ Assistant Director. “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.”
 
 
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.
Share the Post: