CUNY, UMich mishandled complaints of anti-Semitism, Department of Education finds

‘There’s no question that this is a challenging moment for school communities across the country,’ Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said.

The U.S. Department of Education announced that the City University of New York (CUNY) and the University of Michigan mishandled complaints of anti-Semitic and anti-Palestinian discrimination on their respective campuses. 

“Sadly, we have witnessed a series of deeply concerning incidents in recent months,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona explained in a June 17 statement announcing that the Department’s Office for Civil Rights entered “into resolution agreements with the University of Michigan and the City University of New York regarding Title VI of the of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

“There’s no question that this is a challenging moment for school communities across the country,” the statement continued. 

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“The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights continues to hold schools accountable for compliance with civil rights standards, including by investigating allegations of discrimination or harassment based on shared Jewish ancestry and shared Palestinian or Muslim ancestry,” Secretary Cardona continued. “We will continue to work with school leaders, educators, and students across the country to ensure that everyone has a safe learning environment.”

Students at both schools have reported facing harassment. In one instance at the University of Michigan, demonstrators yelled about “Nazi liberation” in October, and there was no evidence that the university took substantial action in response, according to the Office for Civil Rights. 

The University of Michigan agreed to take steps to resolve the issue and to have the Department of Education monitor its future actions taken to combat discrimination. 

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A University of Michigan official shared with Campus Reform school president Santa J. Ono’s public statement: “The university condemns all forms of discrimination, racism and bias in the strongest possible terms. Since October 7, we have been deeply troubled by the statements and actions of some members of our community. U-M is required to uphold free speech under the First Amendment, even if that speech is reprehensible.”

“We continually work to educate our community around the rights and privileges of free speech to ensure that debate does not tip over into targeted harassment or bullying,” Ono’s statement continued. “This agreement reflects the university’s commitment to ensuring it has the tools needed to determine whether an individual’s acts or speech creates a hostile environment, and taking the affirmative measures necessary to provide a safe and supportive educational environment for all.”

Campus Reform has contacted CUNY for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.