Recent concerns have emerged regarding how colleges’ responses to anti-Jewish and anti-Arab incidents on campus can impact their eligibility for federal funding.

Swift and productive responses are essential for fostering an inclusive and safe learning environment, and failure to sufficiently address such incidents and effectively communicate them to the campus community may have far-reaching consequences.

If a college or university receives federal funding, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) protects students from discrimination, including harassment, based on a student’s actual or perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, or citizenship or residency in a country with a dominant religion or distinct religious identity.

Institutions that neglect to effectively address on-campus anti-Jewish or anti-Arab harassment or discrimination risk violating Title VI if these actions created a hostile environment that limited or prevented students from accessing or participating in their education.

When relevant complaints are filed, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) may investigate and conduct comprehensive reviews to determine if the institution’s response is in compliance with Title VI.

If it is found to be noncompliant, a resolution will be developed by OCR that describes the necessary changes the institution should make. If the terms of the resolution are not met, that institution may face penalties, including the loss of Title VI funding.

To avoid such consequences, colleges can prioritize the implementation of robust policies and procedures for promptly addressing incidents of discrimination or harassment. This includes conducting thorough investigations, providing swift and appropriate support to affected students, and enacting preventative measures to create a culture of tolerance and respect.

Since the war between Israel and Hamas began, bias incidents on campuses have increased exponentially. Colleges must do their due diligence by responding quickly. Upholding the principles of inclusivity and equality is not only a legal obligation but a fundamental aspect of fostering a safe and enriching educational experience for all students.

View the OCR’s “Dear Colleague” letter and their “Fact Sheet: Protecting Students from Discrimination Based on Shared Ancestry or Ethnic Characteristics” at●

This article was published in our January/February 2024 issue.