Feds say CUNY, University of Michigan fell short in addressing antisemitic, anti-Palestinian incidents

The Department of Education said Monday that both the City University of New York (CUNY) and the University of Michigan failed to live up to federal standards in addressing recent antisemitic and anti-Palestinian incidents on their campuses.

Both schools have agreed to resolutions to address the complaints after the two universities were found to be out of compliance with Title VI.

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) reviewed 75 complaints against the University of Michigan, ranging from the 2022-23 school year to this February.

“OCR found no evidence that the university complied with its Title VI requirements to assess whether incidents individually or cumulatively created a hostile environment for students, faculty, or staff, and if so, to take steps reasonably calculated to end the hostile environment, remedy its effects, and prevent its recurrence,” the office said.

One example the office used was an October incident when a protester shouted “Nazi liberation” on campus, though records do not show the university took any steps to address the matter besides forwarding the reports to its public affairs office.

In response to the investigation, the school has committed to multiple steps, such as reviewing files from that time frame to ensure each gets a just resolution, reporting incidents of discrimination to the office during the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school years, revising policies and trainings on Title VI and administering a climate assessment on campus.

Meanwhile, CUNY, OCR said, failed to promptly respond to incidents of antisemitism and discrimination against Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and/or South Asian ancestry in the results of a probe that goes back to 2020. The university agreed to reopen some cases and provide the new findings to OCR, provide updated Title VI training to employees and also conduct a campus climate survey.

“Hate has no place on our college campuses—ever. Sadly, we have witnessed a series of deeply concerning incidents in recent months. There’s no question that this is a challenging moment for school communities across the country. The recent commitments made by the University of Michigan and CUNY mark a positive step forward. The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights continues to hold schools accountable for compliance with civil rights standards, including by investigating allegations of discrimination or harassment based on shared Jewish ancestry and shared Palestinian or Muslim ancestry,” Secretary Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

“We will continue to work with school leaders, educators, and students across the country to ensure that everyone has a safe learning environment,” Cardona added.

The resolutions come as dozens of investigations have been opened by the OCR against colleges and universities for antisemitic or anti-Palestinian incidents during the 2023-24 academic school year, in particular in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza.

The OCR can punish schools by taking away federal money, but most investigations end in agreements with the universities.

Updated at 1:30 p.m. ET

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