A legal advocacy organization called on Tuesday for continued federal oversight of New York University over past allegations of discrimination against Jewish students.
In a letter addressed to Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon at the U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights office, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law noted that in September 2020, the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) entered into a resolution agreement with NYU over a claim that it had discriminated against Jewish students.
The university had been accused of failing to address antisemitic behavior and the resulting hostile campus atmosphere for Jewish students.
In accordance with the resolution agreement, NYU committed to take specific measures during the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 academic years to deal with the allegations. These steps included modifying the school’s anti-discrimination policy to address the harassment experienced by Jewish students and to educate students and staff about the modifications.
“As described further in this letter, NYU has yet to fully comply with these obligations. OCR, therefore, should not discontinue monitoring the implementation of the Resolution Agreement until the university demonstrates full compliance,” the Brandeis Center said in its letter, which was sent as the current academic year came to a close, which marked the end of the Department of Education's oversight.
With antisemitism increasing across the country and especially on university campuses, it noted that “NYU itself has continued to see antisemitic incidents on its campus as recently as last month.”
“It is essential, therefore, that OCR ensure full compliance with its resolution agreement,” the Brandeis Center said. “Permitting NYU to bypass its obligations by ending the monitoring period at the end of this academic year would signal to Jewish students that the Department of Education is not serious about protecting Jewish students from harassment and discrimination that targets them on the basis of the Jews’ shared ancestry and ethnicity.”
The letter went on to state that the issues that led former NYU student Adela Cojab to originally file a civil rights complained against NYU have not been resolved.
“The university has taken some steps towards compliance with the agreement, which are laudable. But the university has not meaningfully addressed its antisemitism problem or fully complied with the agreement. In the current circumstance, it would be derelict to permit NYU to run out the clock on OCR oversight and, thereby, undermine OCR’s critical work,” the letter said.