Civil rights complaints allege UPenn and Wellesley allowed antisemitism to ‘run rampant'

The University of Pennsylvania and Wellesley College are accused in a pair of complaints of violating federal civil rights law by allegedly allowing for discrimination against Jews.

Civil rights complaints allege UPenn and Wellesley allowed antisemitism to ‘run rampant'

A Jewish civil rights group claims that Wellesley College and the University of Pennsylvania have violated federal laws on civil rights by discriminating against Jews.

The Brandeis Center is a Jewish civil right legal organization that filed civil rights complaints on Thursday with the US Department of Education. It claimed both schools had failed to respond adequately to Jewish harassment.

Kenneth Marcus said that these colleges and universities had failed to protect Jewish students and were in violation of federal civil rights laws. There's been much talk about eliminating anti-Semitism from campuses. It's now time to hold these schools accountable.

Marcus, former assistant secretary for education, claimed that universities were allowing Jewish discrimination to run wild. He thanked the students who had the courage to share their complaints.

Both schools are accused of violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1965, which prohibits discrimination against people in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

Neither UPenn or Wellesley responded when contacted for comment.

The tension on college campuses has risen since the terror attacks last month against Israel, and because of the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

The University of Pennsylvaniaalerted the FBI to a series of antisemitic threats sent to its staff. This week, antisemitic images were projected on several University of Pennsylvania buildings.

Brandeis' complaint stated that Penn had allowed its campus, which is the community around the university, to become hostile to its Jewish students and a magnet for antisemites.

The 27-page complaint alleges that 'Penn is creating a hostile environment towards Jewish students, which is a clear violation of Title VI'. The complaint cited recent antisemitic incidents at UPenn, as well as Palestine Writes Festival - a multiday event held on the campus of UPenn during September which has been the focus of a backlash from wealthy donors.

Liz Magill was the president of the school and she condemned antisemitism in a broad sense before this festival. She also noted that certain speakers had made antisemitic comments previously.

Magill, facing calls from donors to step down, announced a plan of action on November 1, designed to combat antisemitism at UPenn.

Magill posted a message on Instagramon Thursday condemning antisemitic signs posted in university buildings.

Since generations, many have hidden antisemitism behind hostile rhetoric. Magill wrote that these reprehensible statements are an attack on our values, and they cause fear and pain for the Jewish community. The act of displaying hateful messages is not a debate; it is cowardice and has no place on Penn's campus.

TheBrandeis complaint against Wellesley cited an email sent by a residential adviser (RA) in a school dorm that allegedly stated 'there shouldn't be any space, consideration or support for Zionism' within the Wellesley College Community.

CNN has not independently verified this allegation.

Wellesley College President Paula Johnson sent an email to the community of the college last month informing them that she had recently been made aware that a "small number" of student leaders in one dormitory, in their capacity as residence assistants, wrote a letter expressing their views on the Israel/Hamas conflict.

Johnson said Wellesley’s student life team met the students to 'talk about their role and to support all the students', adding that the RAs had sent an apology to each and every student.

Brandeis argued that Wellesley violated Title VI by failing to take a more aggressive stance against the hostile environment.

Johnson stated that this is a very challenging time for college campuses. The terrorist attacks by Hamas in Gaza and the subsequent Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza have sparked passions and fierce debates across the globe that extend far beyond politics and history in the region.

Johnson issued a statement in which she condemned Hamas terrorist attacks.

This week, the Department of Education reminded colleges and universities of their legal obligation to protect students against discrimination.

Miguel Cardona, the Education Secretary, acknowledged that the agency can withhold federal funding, but added that it wouldn't be their first step. Cardona stated that the department will first provide guidance and support, as well as conduct an investigation into egregious actions.

Cardona stated that 'if we had to refuse to give money to a campus for refusing to comply with our rules, we would'.

The backlash against wealthy donors to some Ivy League colleges continues.

The university confirmed on Friday that billionaire Henry Swieca resigned from the board at Columbia Business School. Swieca, a Wall Street veteran,reportedlyresigned in protest to how Columbia has responded to antisemitism.

A Columbia spokesperson stated that the school received a resignation letter from Henry Swieca, dated October 30, announcing the resignation. The administration thanked him for his years of service.

Swieca has not responded to a comment request.