NEW YORK (JTA) — The Zionist Organization of America has filed a complaint against Rutgers University alleging that the school fostered a hostile environment toward Jewish students.
The complaint requests that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights investigate the New Jersey school for violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
ZOA President Morton Klein and Susan Tuchman, the director of ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice in a statement, said the complaint was filed “only after numerous serious efforts were made to get the university to respond to a long pattern of anti-Semitic hostility on campus, and the administration refused to do so.”
The brief offers a number of examples, including one in which Jewish students allegedly were charged admission to a free event and a student was violently threatened on Facebook, as well as citing an alleged anti-Israel bias in the university's Middle East studies program.
Rutgers denied the allegations in a statement, calling the assertions “factually inaccurate and significantly distorted,” and said the university “welcomes the opportunity to share with the U.S. Department of Education the accurate facts about the events that the ZOA has misrepresented in its allegations.”
Last October, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan reclassified campus anti-Semitism as prohibited discrimination covered by the Civil Rights Act. In March, the Office of Civil Rights launched its first investigation into campus anti-Semitism at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
In April, the American Jewish Committee in a statement criticized what it called the “misuse of Title VI to suppress anti-Israel speech,” saying the approach was “dangerous.” The statement, however, alluded to one of the instances at Rutgers outlined in the ZOA complaint as possibly warranting investigation.
AJC and ZOA were among the Jewish groups that had urged Duncan to issue the new Title VI guidelines.