Dear Assistant Secretary Lhamon:
Thank you for your service. The Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Education plays a key role in protecting students from discrimination. Antisemitism has been on the rise in the United States and around the globe. According to a recent report by the FBI, Jews are the most targeted group for religion-based hate crimes in the United States. In 2020, approximately 60% of religion-based hate crimes in the US targeted Jews.
This wave of antisemitism has had a detrimental impact at many American colleges and universities. Alums for Campus Fairness released a recent survey in which 75% of the 500 respondents (including current students and recent alums) indicated that antisemitism continues to be a "very serious problem" on campus; nearly 70% said they avoided certain places, events, or situations on campus because of their Jewish identity; and nearly half of the respondents stated that antisemitism on campus is getting worse. This demonstrates that Jewish students need assistance and protection from the growing threat of antisemitism on American campuses.
In light of this reality, and our concern for Jewish students on campus, we are requesting the following:
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) should provide technical assistance regarding campus antisemitism either (a) through the Outreach, Prevention, Education & Nondiscrimination (OPEN) Center created specifically for this purpose within OCR; or (b) directly to colleges, universities, Jewish students, and Jewish faculty about civil rights protections afforded to Jewish students under federal civil rights.
There appears to be a significant delay in OCR completing investigations of Title VI complaints relating to antisemitism and other instances of discrimination in higher education, with some complaints filed as far back as 2018 and still pending. Therefore, for each Title VI complaint that has been pending in OCR for more than 180 days, we request that you provide the following information: (a) the status of the case; (b) the reason(s) it has not been resolved; and (c) an estimated time frame for its resolution.
During spring 2021, the Biden Administration announced the DOE's intention to issue a proposed rulemaking in response to Executive Order 13899 on Combating Anti-Semitism and Executive Order 13985 on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. In the fall 2021 Unified Agenda and Regulatory Plan, the administration moved the projected date for issuing notice and proposing regulation of Title VI from January to December of 2022. After a year with historic levels of antisemitism, we ask that the administration re-prioritize the rulemaking process for Title VI and ensure it remains a priority as opposed to a long-term action.
These delays in processing Title VI complaints are delaying justice and potentially allowing discrimination to persist on campuses throughout the country. Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.