Office For Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education (OCR) Opens Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964 Investigation at the University of California Santa Cruz


In a letter dated March 7, 2011,  responding to a complaint filed  by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education (OCR) has agreed to open a Title VI investigation at the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC). The letter stated, “We have determined that the issue is appropriate for investigation under the laws enforced by OCR.”   The letter also stated that OCR has identified the following issue for investigation:

The recipient (UCSC)  “failed to take steps in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to respond to notice of a then existing hostile environment for Jewish Students based on their actual or perceived ancestry or ethnic characteristics.”

Ms.  Rossman-Benjamin, a lecturer in Hebrew at the University of California, Santa Cruz  (UCSC),  lodged  a 29-page extensively documented Title VI Complaint with the OCR  in June,  2009.  The complaint alleges, among other things,  that anti-Israel discourse and behavior in classrooms and that departmentally and university-sponsored events had created an “emotionally and intellectually hostile environment for Jewish students and had adversely affected their educational experience” at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC).  The complaint further alleges that: Continue reading

Enforce Policy on Campus Harassment

Kenneth L. Marcus is the director of The Anti-Semitism Initiative at the Institute for Jewish & Community Research and author of “Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America,” Cambridge 2010. He also teaches at Baruch College of the City University of New York.)

Op-Ed: U.S. must enforce policy on campus harassment

By Kenneth L. Marcus · December 8, 2010

NEW YORK (JTA) — Buried in the recent policy statement on bullying in the public schools, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced a major policy on anti-Semitism: For only the second time in its history, OCR pledged that it would use its civil rights enforcement powers to protect Jewish students from anti-Semitic harassment.

The landmark ruling bolsters the 2004 policy that I issued while heading OCR during the first George W. Bush administration but which had been abandoned or ignored in the intervening years. The new policy is a big deal for students on many college campuses, where anti-Semitism has made a startling return. However, it is hardly clear whether OCR will enforce it fully.

The new policy is certainly timely. Some say this is a “golden age” for American Jewish college students, pointing to the proliferation of Hillel houses, Jewish studies departments, Israel studies classes, and Jewish college presidents and faculty. There is some truth to this opinion.

But if it is the best of times, it is also the worst of times. The long steady progress against anti-Semitism since the end of the World War II halted nearly a decade ago at the start of the second intifada. Since then many campuses, especially on the West Coast, have seen a resurgence of anti-Jewish animosity. In many cases we see old school European-style stereotypes of greedy, conspiratorial Jews. Continue reading

Anti-Semitism at the OCR?

Kenneth L. Marcus, is the former staff director of the United States Commission on Civil Rights

Kenneth L. Marcus

Commentary Magazine

During the first years of the 21st century, the virus of anti-Semitism was unleashed with a vengeance in Irvine, California. There, on the campus of the University of California at Irvine, Jewish students were physically and verbally harassed, threatened, shoved, stalked, and targeted by rock-throwing groups and individuals. Jewish property was defaced with swastikas, and a Holocaust memorial was vandalized. Signs were posted on campus showing a Star of David dripping with blood. Jews were chastised for arrogance by public speakers whose appearance at the institution was subsidized by the university. They were called “dirty Jew” and “fucking Jew,” told to “go back to Russia” and “burn in hell,” and heard other students and visitors to the campus urge one another to “slaughter the Jews.” One Jewish student who wore a pin bearing the flags of the United States and Israel was told to “take off that pin or we’ll beat your ass.” Another was told, “Jewish students are the plague of mankind” and “Jews should be finished off in the ovens.” Continue reading

ZOA, 12 major Jewish Organizations letter the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education: Protect Jewish students from anti-Semitic harassment, intimidation and discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act

(Courtesy of the ZOA)

American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
American Jewish Committee
American Jewish Congress
Anti-Defamation League
B’nai B’rith International
Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
Institute for Jewish and Community Research
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
Zionist Organization of America

March 16, 2010

The Hon. Arne Duncan
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1510

Re: Protecting Jewish Students Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Dear Mr. Secretary:

In your thoughtful speech last week in Selma, Alabama, commemorating the 45th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” confrontation between law-enforcement officials and civil-rights marchers, you appropriately emphasized both the important mission of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the critical nature of the work of the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). We write to urge you to ensure that, in furtherance of that critical work, OCR interprets Title VI to protect Jewish students from anti-Semitic harassment, intimidation and discrimination.

To read the entire letter click   Here

Former Staff Director of the United States Commission on Civil Rights

Kenneth L. Marcus
CUNY Baruch College School of Public Affairs

[I]f the watchman sees the sword advancing and does not blow
the  horn,  so  that  the  people  are  not  warned,  and  the  sword
comes and destroys one of them . . . I will demand a reckoning
for his blood from the watchman.

Ezekiel 33:61

Task Force work on UC Irvine cited in this article:


“What is wrong with the new anti-Semitism which is now resurgent across the globe, including on American college campuses? The question is deceptively simple, but it carries considerable resonance. Numerous governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, scholars, and civil rights practitioners have documented the dangers inherent in anti-Semitism’s recent manifestations, both globally and on United States college campuses. Yet many critics still deny its existence, severity, newness, anti-Semitism, or difference from mere criticism of Israeli policies. Continue reading

Federal Government Initiates New Investigation Into UC Irvine’s Response To Campus Anti-Semitism

This just in from the ZOA

By letter to the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) dated April 25, 2008, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has indicated that it will be investigating several incidents of alleged anti-Semitic harassment, intimidation and discrimination that occurred in May 2007, at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). The ZOA had brought these incidents to OCR’s attention almost one year ago, asserting that the incidents show that UCI has continued to respond ineffectively to campus anti-Semitism, in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI). Title VI requires that recipients of federal funding (like UCI) ensure that their programs and activities are free discrimination based on “race, color, or national origin.” If the recipient is found to have violated Title VI, it can lose its federal funding.

OC Task Force Investigation Finds Anti-Semitism at University of California, Irvine and Reviews Findings of DOE’s Office for Civil Rights

Dowload the Full OC Independent Task Force Report

Huntington Beach, CA –February 12, 2008 –The Orange County Independent Task Force released its Findings and Recommendations (Report), concerning alleged incidents of anti-Semitism at The University of California, Irvine (UCI). The investigation began in February 2007 and lasted approximately one year. Over the course of the investigation Task Force members interviewed, students, faculty and community members and visited the campus on many occasions. Over 80 hours of interviews and numerous documents, articles, and written complaints were used in the compilation of the Report.

Among its findings, The Task Force investigation has concluded the following:

• The existence of: physical and verbal harassment, hate speech directed at Jews by guest speakers, hate events sponsored by the Muslim Student Union (MSU), disruptive behavior on the part of Muslim students when pro-Israeli speakers appear on campus, anti-Israeli classroom environments, and an unresponsive, if not a hostile, administration.

• Hate speakers have targeted “Zionist Jews” at MSU events; that MSU has defiled Jewish symbols, often using depiction of anti-Semitic stereotypes; and that Jewish students were targets of intimidation.

• There has been a lack of response by the administration that has selectively enforced University rules and regulations.

• The Chancellor has refused to unequivocally condemn anti-Semitic speech although other college/university presidents have spoke clearly and decisively against this form of hate speech.

• For the most part, Jewish organizations in Orange County have been ineffective in dealing with anti-Semitism at UCI.

Some of the major recommendations include: UCI should be held accountable for its actions and inaction by community leaders, Jewish organizations, and donors. Students with a strong Jewish identity should consider not attending UCI until tangible changes are made. The Board of Regents should investigate the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs in his capacity as an impartial arbiter of University Rules and Regulations.

The Task Force had initially decided to release its Report and Recommendations in December 2007. The release was delayed in order to study the report(s) issued by the United States Department of Education Office, Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

On November 30, 2007, (OCR) issued two reports contained in separate letters written to Dr. Michael V. Drake, Chancellor of UCI, and to Ms. Susan B. Tuchman of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). ZOA initiated the complaint in 2004 on behalf of students at UCI. These two letter/findings are not identical and do not contain exactly the same listed allegations. The reason why OCR issued two separate letter/findings is unclear. For example, the letter to Ms. Tuchman deals with a total of 26 allegations while the letter to Chancellor Drake deals with only 13 allegations.

In addition:

• Certain allegations were dismissed because they were not “related to the national origin of any of the Jewish students who complained”.

• Several other allegations were dismissed as “untimely filed”.

• The University was excused from any wrongdoing based on minimal action it did after these events occurred.

• Key administration figures were not interviewed by OCR investigators until late September 2006, nearly two years after the initial complaint was filed by ZOA on October 11, 2004.

The OCR investigation does not deny that these “allegations” of anti-Semitism occurred. In fact, OCR’s investigation and report(s) substantiates this Task Force’s findings that significant anti-Semitic activities have existed UCI for some period of time and that, while the University administration may not have done anything illegal in this regard, the University has done little if anything, except for token actions after each incident, to help prevent, discourage, curtail or punish the perpetrators of these anti-Semitic activities on campus.

Report delayed to review OCR findings

Independent Task force to delay release of final report

Huntington Beach, CA, December 12, 2007- In light of the release of findings from the U.S. Department of Educations Office for Civil Rights (OCR), The Orange County Independent Task Force has decided to delay issuance of its final report pending review the OCR findings, as well as to study recent information and testimony that it has obtained. The Independent Task Force anticipates release its report and recommendations early in 2008.

The Independent Task Force was formed early in 2007 to investigate alleged incidents of anti-Semitism at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). The goal of the Independent Task Force is issue a thorough and objective report with findings and recommendations to the community and to the UCI administration.