San Francisco, March 15, 2011 - The Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR) announces that the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has opened a major investigation into anti-Semitism claims at the University of California Santa Cruz. Lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin filed a June 2009 complaint alleging the university failed to address a hostile environment for Jewish students on that campus. After long deliberation, OCR has determined that the case merits full investigation.
The OCR complaint describes a campus environment in which Jewish students feel harassed and intimidated. University-sponsored events vilify Israel while professors openly express hostility toward the Jewish state and its supporters. Rossman-Benjamin adds that “no other … group on campus has been subjected … to such hostile and demonizing criticism.”
Former OCR chief Kenneth L. Marcus, who now heads The Anti-Semitism Initiative at IJCR, explains: “This case is extremely significant for four reasons. First, it is opened just as International Apartheid Week activities are being held around the world and illustrates the potential ramifications of extremist protest activities. Second, it follows right on the heels of a federal lawsuit alleging similar problems at the University of California Berkeley just a few days before and may illustrate a broad trend. Third, it is only the second major systemic anti-Semitism case that OCR has opened and may have important precedential value. Fourth, it is the first major case to follow OCR’s new campus anti-Semitism policy and may demonstrate whether OCR means what it says about its commitment to addressing hate and bias in federally funded higher education programs.”
The Institute for Jewish & Community Research (IJCR) is an independent, non-partisan think tank that provides innovative research and pragmatic policy analyses on a broad range of issues including racial and religious identity, philanthropy, and anti-Semitism. www.jewishresearch.org