Dept. of Education issues reminder, offers new tools to federally funded institutions to address and protect against hate-based incidents on campus

by | Nov 15, 2023

In response to a recent rise in violence, harassment, and intimidation on college campuses, the Biden administration continues to emphasize its commitment to addressing religion-based hate here in the United States.

Last week, citing the increasing number of hate-based domestic incidents on college campuses in the wake of the October 7 terrorist attack on Israelis and the ensuing war between Israel and Hamas, the U.S. Department of Education issued a letter reminding universities, colleges, and schools receiving federal funding of their obligations under Title VII to provide all students with a safe environment. Here’s an excerpt:

As we witness a nationwide rise in reports of hate crimes and harassment, including an alarming rise in disturbing antisemitic incidents and threats to Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian students on college campuses and in P-12 schools, the fulfillment of school communities’ federal legal obligations to ensure nondiscriminatory environments have renewed urgency.

Every student has the right to a learning environment that is free from discrimination. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) stands ready to support schools in fulfilling this promise and to ensure every student’s right to learn without discrimination. All students, including students who are or are perceived to be Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian, as well as students who come from, or are perceived to come from, all regions of the world, are entitled to a school environment free from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin.

The Department of Education followed that up this week with the announcement of new tools –including funding for school safety initiatives – and new resources for students, educators, parents, and community members designed to “keep students safe from antisemitism, Islamophobia, and related forms of discrimination.” You can read the latest announcement here.

“I’m glad to see the Biden administration bolstering efforts to battle antisemitism and Islamophobia in schools nationwide,” BJC Executive Director Amanda Tyler said in a post on X.

These moves build on ongoing anti-hate campaigns initiated by the administration. Earlier this year, the White House announced an initiative to combat the rise of antisemitism. The National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism called on Congress and executive agencies to take action that would increase awareness of antisemitism, improve safety and security for Jewish communities, reverse the normalization of antisemitism, and build community to counter hate.  Then, in November, the Biden administration added a National Strategy to Counter Islamophobia, noting that ‘for too long, Muslims in America, and those perceived to be Muslim … have endured a disproportionate number of hate-fueled attacks and other discriminatory incidents.”