Education authorities in the United States opened investigations into cases of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia at seven very prestigious universities, whose campuses were deeply shaken by student reactions to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas.
The Department of Education said in a press release that seven institutions, including a student group in the state of Kansas, are the subject of what constitutes the first round of investigations of this type that educational authorities have carried out since the beginning of the conflict between Israel. and Hamas, on October 7.
Five investigations refer to accusations of “anti-Semitic harassment” and another two to “Islamophobic harassment,” the authorities said.
“Hate has no place in our universities, period,” stated the Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, in the press release.
Three elite institutions on the East Coast of the United States – the universities of Columbia, Cornell and Pennsylvania – are especially concerned about the issue, the Department stressed.
Cardona recalled that establishments “must act to guarantee safe and inclusive educational environments, where everyone is free to learn,” and where students “are protected from hatred and discrimination.”
At the end of October, the White House had already warned about the “alarming increase in anti-Semitic incidents in schools and college campuses” since October 7.
Land of activism, American university campuses have been the subject of numerous controversies surrounding the conflict, including at the prestigious Harvard, where a pro-Palestinian press release signed by student associations sparked outrage among political leaders, some of whom accused them of antisemitism.
At Columbia University, two student associations calling for a ceasefire in Gaza were suspended by the university, accused of having made “threatening speeches and intimidation.”
These investigations by authorities, based on anti-discrimination legislation adopted during the civil rights movement in the 1960s, can lead to the cutting of federal subsidies received by establishments, or even lead to a criminal investigation.