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US Dept of Education opens investigation of Harvard over antisemitism on campus

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is opening an investigation into Harvard University following antisemitism on campus in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war, Fox News has learned. 

In a letter obtained by Fox News Digital dated Tuesday, Kristi R. Harris, Chief Attorney for the OCR Boston Office said that the OCR will be opening an investigation into whether Harvard “failed to respond to alleged harassment of students based on their national origin (shared Jewish ancestry and/or Israeli) in a manner consistent with the requirements of Title VI.” 

“Please note that opening the complaint for investigation in no way implies that OCR has made a determination on the merits of the complaint. During the investigation, OCR is a neutral factfinder, collecting and analyzing relevant evidence from you, the University, and other sources, as appropriate,” the letter says. 

“Our goal is the prompt resolution of the complaint,” Harris wrote, noting that the complaint can be resolved before the conclusion of the investigation or through mediation with the university.

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The letter was addressed to a Harvard alum, who spoke with Fox News Digital on condition of anonymity, and who previously filed a complaint with OCR alleging the Ivy League school discriminated against students on the basis of national origin by not appropriately responding to incidents of harassment last month.

The complaint came in response to a first-year Israeli student at Harvard Business School reportedly being shoved and accosted by pro-Palestinian protesters amid a “die in” demonstration held in October at the Massachusetts campus in reaction to Israel’s retaliatory strikes against the Gaza Strip. The FBI and Harvard police received a complaint saying the Israeli student had his phone ripped from his hands and was “assaulted both physically and verbally,” according to The Washington Free Beacon. 

Harris’s letter says complainants may also have a right to file a private suit in federal court whether or not OCR finds a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national original in any program or activity actively receiving federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education. 

“Please be advised that the University must not harass, coerce, intimidate, discriminate, or otherwise retaliate against an individual because that individual asserts a right or privilege under a law enforced by OCR or files a complaint, testifies, assists, or participates in a proceeding under a law enforced by OCR,” the letter says. “If this happens, the individual may file a retaliation complaint with OCR.” 

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Fox News Digital reached out to Harvard for comment, but they did not immediately respond. 

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The investigation was revealed the same day it was announced that college presidents from Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania will be testifying on Capitol Hill about rampant antisemitism on their campuses that followed Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attacks. Dr. Claudine Gay, President of Harvard University, Ms. Liz Magill, President of the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Sally Kornbluth, the President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are expected to testify on Tuesday, Dec. 5, before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C.

Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.

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