WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 18, 2019) – While President Donald Trump’s new executive order which extends civil rights protect to Jews – and may lead to a blitz of Title VI complaints and investigations similar to that brought on by Title IX complains for sexual assaults – is being trumpeted, many administrators at universities may not realize that they are already under siege from the Department Of Education over anti-Semitism, as well as boycotts and other punitive actions aimed at Israel, suggests public interest law professor John Banzhaf.
Indeed, Trump put it bluntly in his message to universities: “if you want to accept the tremendous amount of federal dollars that you get every year, you must reject anti-Semitism, it’s very simple.”
For example, both Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania are under investigations to determine whether they discriminated against qualified applicants because they are Jewish.
The Department of Education is already investigating New York University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke, and Rutgers University to determine if funding should be cut off because they allegedly coddled anti-Israel sentiment and allowed their campuses to become hostile environments for Jewish students.
Indeed, North Caroline has already been forced to revise its anti-discrimination policy to prohibit “anti-Semitic harassment,” and to lay out how prohibited anti-Semitism could be manifested on its campus.
Department of Education actions against colleges
More recently, the Department of Education opened a discrimination case against New York University because of an episode when pro-Palestinian activists disrupted a pro-Israel dance party.
“The issue arises as campuses have become hotbeds of racial and cultural strife,” reports the New York Times, and the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights charges that “the Department of Education is effectively strong-arming universities into adopting policies that would chill criticism of the Israeli government’s” actions, notes Banzhaf.
The new executive order is also expected to result in a crackdown on university involvement in the “boycott Israel” movement. Indeed, Secretary Devos has called the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions [B.D.S.] movement “one of the most pernicious threats” on college campuses.
So, just as the Obama administration’s actions under Title IX led to a revolution in how universities handle matters of sexual assault, the Trump administration’s somewhat similar actions under Title VI could lead to major changes in how universities deal with anti-Semitism and university involvement in efforts to pressure Israel, predicts Banzhaf.