FIRST ON FOX: Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, sent a letter to the Department of Education Thursday urging stronger protections for Jewish students on college campuses across the country.
‘Antisemitism has no place on our college campuses, or anywhere. Iran wants chaos, and protests are fueling that at home and abroad,’ Ernst told Fox News Digital in a statement.
Ernst questioned what the department is doing to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law in the United States that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.
Her letter comes as a wave of pro-Palestinian ‘resistance’ protests in support of Hamas have sprung up in college campuses across the country after Hamas launched a surprise terrorist attack in Israel on Oct. 7 killing 1,400 people and wounding thousands others.
‘In the aftermath of this brutal terrorist attack, university faculty and student organizations supporting Palestinians held ‘National Day of Resistance’ events on many American college campuses,’ Ernst wrote. ‘These events attempted to justify the recent mass murder of Jews — the most in a single day since the Holocaust.’
In May 2023, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon clarified that Title VI safeguards students from discrimination, including harassment, based on factors like shared ancestry, ethnic characteristics, citizenship in a country with a dominant religion, or distinct religious identity.
‘Therefore, during a flood of antisemitic attacks on college campuses — above and beyond the already-rising antisemitism facing Jewish students — we are incredibly disappointed in the Department’s lack of response, despite legal obligations under Title VI,’ she said.
Ernst pointed out several instances of incidents involving Jewish students, including a student’s dorm room door set on fire.
‘At Stanford University, a professor encouraged Jewish students to stand in a corner alone in a purported ‘academic’ exercise to show how Israel treats Palestinians. A professor and faculty advisor at the University of California Davis wrote a social media post appearing to call for Zionist journalists and their children to be murdered,’ she wrote.
Ernst requested a briefing by Nov. 9, 2023, to address the department’s strategy for advancing the Antisemitism Awareness Campaign in light of escalating antisemitism in educational institutions nationwide, as well as the provision of data on antisemitic-related complaints to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR).
Additionally, clarification is sought on whether OCR has initiated any compliance reviews in response to complaints of antisemitic harassment, and if any directed investigations have been launched based on news reports of such incidents, the letter states.
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Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., one of the co-sponsors of the letter, said in a statement: ‘The threats and violence against Jewish and Israeli students on college campuses is despicable. The Biden Department of Education needs to fulfill their legal responsibility to ensure federally funded colleges are providing a safe learning environment free of antisemitism and violence.’
The letter is signed by Sens. Jim Risch, R-Ohio, Ted Cruz, R-Tx., Tim Scott, R-S.C., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.V., Roger Wicker, R-MI., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Ted Budd, R-N.C., John Cornyn, R-Tx., Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., Katie Britt, R-Ala., and Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska.
Last week, Maryland Democrat Sen. Chris Van Hollen blocked a resolution brought forth by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., to condemn antisemitism across college campuses. Earlier this month, Hawley also tapped the Department of Justice to investigate whether pro-Palestinian student groups involved in protests have any financial ties to Hamas.
Fox News Digital has reached out to the Department of Education for comment.