Education Dept. investigates university for condemning Oct. 7 Hamas attack

The Department of Education opened an investigation into San Diego State University after an administrator sent an email condemning Hamas and offering support after the Oct. 7 terrorist attack.

The Biden administration’s Department of Education opened an investigation into San Diego State University after an administrator sent an email condemning Hamas and offering support after the Oct. 7 terrorist attack, according to a school official.

A spokesperson for San Diego State University told Campus Reform it received a notice from the Department of Education on Tuesday about a complaint that the school “discriminated against Islamic, Arab and/or Palestinian students by sending an all-campus email on Oct. 9.”

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights opened a shared ancestry investigation into the university on Tuesday, government records show.

The complaint, according to the SDSU official, alleges that the email “promoted hate and racism against Arabs and Muslims.”


San Diego State University President Adela de la Torre and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity Christy Samarkos sent the Oct. 9 email in question.

”Throughout this weekend and today, SDSU has been in direct communication with dozens of impacted community members after the horrific reports of killings and kidnappings following the Hamas attacks on Israel during Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah, a major Jewish holy day,” the administrators wrote. “What is being reported is heartbreaking. We have heard from SDSU community members who have family, close friends and colleagues in the region. Many have spent several terrifying days praying for their safety.”

”We are grieving for all those who are suffering in the wake of this outburst of violence,” the email stated. “We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, any act of violence, especially those against innocent civilians. We are deeply struck by the sheer scale of the loss of life – of innocent Israelis, Palestinians, and countless others. We also recognize that this follows a long history of loss of life of civilians in this region.”

The email also provided resources for students needing support.

The university spokesperson said, “The email, which you can read in full online, does not promote hate or racism.”

”Since October 7, SDSU has been actively in communication with our many San Diego and campus partners given the significance of the community impact of the ongoing war,” added the spokesperson. “University safety professionals have been in contact and offered support and resources to those impacted, including members of our Islamic, Arab and Palestinian communities.”

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has previously said that the opening of an investigation doesn’t necessarily mean that the government agency believes the complaint has merit, according to the Jerusalem Post.


A November Department of Education press release states that its Office for Civil Rights would be opening investigations in response to “the alarming nationwide rise in reports of antisemitism, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, and other forms of discrimination and harassment on college campuses and in K-12 schools since the October 7 Israel-Hamas conflict”

”Hate has no place in our schools, period. When students are targeted because they are — or are perceived to be — Jewish, Muslim, Arab, Sikh, or any other ethnicity or shared ancestry, schools must act to ensure safe and inclusive educational environments where everyone is free to learn,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “These investigations underscore how seriously the Biden-Harris Administration, including the U.S. Department of Education, takes our responsibility to protect students from hatred and discrimination.” 

A Department of Education spokesperson told Campus Reform, “The Department does not comment further on pending investigations.”