2021 Victories: ACLJ Defends Jewish Student Against Vile Antisemitism on American University Campus
This is the latest installment of our year-end Victories Series, looking back at some of the numerous victories by the ACLJ in 2021.
This year the ACLJ settled an important case with an agreement that immediately affected Jewish students at the Georgia Institute of Technology and, hopefully, set a precedent for other universities to follow.
Last January we filed a federal complaint on behalf of our client, Hillels of Georgia, asking the Department of Education to investigate and determine whether the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) had engaged in antisemitic discrimination in permitting a hostile environment and other violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin by recipients of federal financial assistance from the Department of Education. As a recipient of federal financial assistance from the Department, Georgia Tech is subject to the provisions of Title VI and is required to make sure that it handles all complaints appropriately.
Under Title VI, the standard for unacceptable discriminatory conduct includes behavior that “is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent so as to interfere with or limit the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from the services, activities or privileges provided by a recipient.” A violation of Title VI may be found if discrimination is encouraged, tolerated, not adequately addressed, or ignored by administrators.
Our complaint came after the Director of Hillel at Georgia Tech was denied entry to a public event because she is Jewish and affiliated with a Jewish organization. Having determined that we met the appropriate thresholds, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) opened a formal investigation. You can read our complaint letter here.
In December 2020, the parties agreed to participate in OCR’s Facilitated Resolution Between Parties (FRBP) process with a FRBP facilitator. After two days of mediation, the parties agreed to a resolution that would allow everyone to move forward in a collaborative fashion and ensure that Jewish students remain protected on campus.
Georgia Tech agreed that in exchange for Hillels of Georgia dropping their Title VI complaint, they would issue a statement that recognized and embraced the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, condemned antisemitism, and promised to work with Hillels on the next steps for ensuring the best possible campus environment for Jewish students and all students.
We are hopeful that Georgia Tech’s statement will spur other universities to proactively embrace the IHRA definition of antisemitism and not wait until there is an incident on campus that requires them to apply it when assessing motive for discriminatory conduct. And we will continue working to put an end to antisemitism in all its forms.
To help the ACLJ continue to have the resources we need to defeat vicious antisemitism on campuses, in the workplace, and even in the halls of our own government, please consider making a Tax-Deductible donation to the ACLJ through our year-end Matching Challenge. Your gift will be DOUBLED, dollar for dollar, through the end of the year.
You can read more in the ACLJ’s 2021 Victories Series here.
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