UVM responds to claims of discrimination against Jewish students

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 5:54 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The University of Vermont is responding to claims that it failed to respond seriously to complaints by Jewish students who felt targeted on campus because of their Zionist convictions.

It comes after the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights Tuesday said it was investigating allegations of discrimination against Jewish students following a complaint filed by the Louis D. Brandeis Center, a national Jewish civil rights nonprofit. The group says it compiled Jewish students’ complaints that they were being excluded from groups and were being discriminated against based on their support of Israel.

UVM Thursday released a letter from president Suresh Garimella saying that the narrative was harmful to their community and that the complaints painted them in a false light. “Exploitation of fear and divisiveness by advancing false claims that UVM failed to respond to complaints of antisemitic behavior creates confusion and a sense of insecurity for the entire community,” Garimella wrote.

The letter notes that the fact an investigation was opened does not mean it has merit or that federal investigators have accused UVM of any wrongdoing.

One allegation says the university did not adequately respond to student reports of antisemitism by a teaching assistant on social media. Garimella says UVM did investigate and conducted a thorough review to ensure all grades were awarded on a non-discriminatory basis.

Another allegation claims two student-led UVM organizations excluded Jewish students who expressed support for Zionism. UVM says those allegations were also immediately investigated but that the organizations are not recognized by the university and so are not bound by policies governing student organizations.

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Jewish group claims UVM students discriminated against over support for Israel