Orthodox Union Welcomes Resolution of Complaints Against City University of New York and University of Michigan Alleging Antisemitic Discrimination

Posted on June 17, 2024 In Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. —  The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union), the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, commends the work of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in investigating the failure of these universities to adequately protect Jewish students on their campuses.

The City University of New York (CUNY), the CUNY Central Office, and several CUNY colleges and schools, including Hunter College, CUNY School of Law, Brooklyn College, Queens College, and Baruch College, were found to have egregious failures in addressing discrimination and antisemitic harassment. Most of the incidents investigated and accounted for occurred in the aftermath of the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel.

Further, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) found that the University of Michigan had not complied with its Title VI requirements to assess whether reported incidents created a hostile environment for students and staff. The information provided by the university throughout the investigation raises serious concerns about how the institution will respond to future incidents of alleged discrimination and prevent recurrence.

The Orthodox Union has persistently urged OCR to bring to resolution pending investigations it opened after October 7 and enforce consequences for failures to address the antisemitism spreading on campuses so that universities across the U.S. see there is a price to pay for inaction. Today’s resolutions compel CUNY and Michigan to implement a series of reforms and report all Title VI complaints to OCR for the next two years. While this isn’t the imposition of the ultimate penalty – withholding federal funds – it is designed to improve the situation at these schools for Jewish and other students right away. We expect that harsher penalties will be imposed if these schools continue to fail to protect their students’ civil rights.

Nathan Diament, Executive Director of Public Policy at the Orthodox Union, said:

“We commend the Department of Education for highlighting the universities’ egregious failures and providing an agreement designed to protect Jewish students and other students’ rights. Moreover, we appreciate that part of the resolution agreements requires Michigan and CUNY (on all its campuses), respectively, to report all Title VI complaints to the Dept of Ed. Office of Civil Rights for the next two years. We expect this, and the other commitments made by the university leaders, to dramatically improve the situation on campus for Jewish students, or more severe consequences will be imposed.”

Rabbi Hauer, Executive Vice President of the Orthodox Union, said:

“It is the responsibility of the universities to maintain an environment where Jewish students are free from harassment, and it is the responsibility of the Department of Education (DoE) to ensure that they are doing so. The resolution agreements published today by the DoE demonstrate the shocking tolerance of antisemitism at the University of Michigan and within the CUNY system. The investigations and resolutions conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights provide a path forward to see these problems effectively addressed at these schools and should guide the many other universities that are failing to protect their students. We look forward to seeing these resolutions effectively implemented by the universities and duly enforced by the DoE. Jewish students must have a far better school year than the one just ended.”