Harvard University is currently under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) regarding allegations of antisemitism on campus. The OCR is looking into whether the university failed to address instances of national origin-based harassment against students of Jewish ancestry and Israeli heritage in violation of Title VI.
In a letter obtained by Fox News Digital, the OCR’s chief attorney for the Boston office, Kristi R. Harris, stated that the investigation aims to determine if Harvard adequately responded to the reported incidents. Harris emphasized that the inquiry’s opening does not imply a pre-determined judgment on the complaint’s merits. The OCR’s role is to gather and analyze evidence from various sources to reach a fair and unbiased resolution.
A Harvard alum filed the complaint, who accused the university of discriminating against students based on their national origin. The incident in question involved a first-year Israeli student at Harvard Business School who was allegedly assaulted and verbally abused by pro-Palestinian protesters during a “die-in” demonstration in October. The student reported having his phone forcibly taken from him and being subjected to physical and verbal aggression.
The OCR’s letter also informs complainants that they have the right to file a private suit in federal court, regardless of the outcome of the investigation. Discrimination is prohibited by Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act based on national origin, race, or color in any program that derives federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education.
Harvard University must refrain from harassing, coercing, intimidating, discriminating against, or retaliating against individuals who assert their rights under OCR-enforced laws or file complaints. The letter warns that any such retaliation can result in a separate complaint being filed with the OCR.
The investigation coincides with the announcement that college presidents from Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania will testify before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. The presidents will address the rise of antisemitism on their campuses following the October 7 terror attacks by Hamas. The testimony is scheduled for December 5 and aims to shed light on the experiences of Jewish students and the universities’ efforts to combat antisemitism.
As the investigation unfolds, it remains to be seen how Harvard University will address the allegations and work towards resolving the complaint in a manner that upholds the principles of equal treatment and freedom from discrimination for all students.