Indiana University faces federal civil rights investigation over anti-Semitism response

BLOOMINGTON – The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights has opened an investigation into Indiana University over its alleged failure to respond to anti-Semitism on campus.

The complaint, filed by Campus Reform Editor-in-Chief Dr. Zachary Marschall, alleges that the Bloomington, Indiana institution hasn’t correctly responded to anti-Semitism on campus, leaving Jewish students “afraid to speak up.”

Editor-in-Chief Dr. Zachary Marschall

After the October 7, 2023, terrorist attack carried out by Hamas, several pro-Palestinian protests were held at the Indiana University campus.

On October 28, 2023, the university’s Palestine Solidarity Committee organized a rally supporting a ceasefire.

On November 15, 2023, House Education and Workforce Committee member Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03) requested a briefing from Indiana University President Pamela S. Whitten regarding the university’s response to allegations of antisemitism within Indiana University Student Government (IUSG) leadership.

Rep. Jim Banks

“Antisemitism is on the rise on college campuses across America, and Indiana must be clear that antisemitism has no place in our state or its flagship university,” said Rep. Banks. “Alleged prejudice within the IU student body’s leadership has resulted in the resignation of multiple IUSG officeholders over the past week and must be investigated by school administrators. I am calling on IU to follow the law and protect Jewish students from hate.”

Key excerpts from Rep. Banks’ letter are below:

“According to a recent resignation letter released by two now-former IUSG members, the student body president of IUSG is ‘is blatantly antisemitic,’ and IUSG leadership has consistently ignored the concerns of Jewish IU students and “does not want to work with Jewish students.” The letter also alleges that one of the student’s superiors in student government told her that “[a]ntisemitism is not an issue on campus.”

“U.S. colleges have experienced a 400 percent increase in antisemitic incidents this year, and antisemitic incidents across Indiana rose 106 percent last year. Last year, an antisemitic vandal ripped mezuzahs, a Jewish symbol, off IU students’ dorm doors…”

“As an IU graduate, allegations of antisemitism at my alma mater are personal and extremely concerning to me. As a lawmaker, I would note that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits anti-Jewish and antisemitic discrimination. If IU administrators condone or tolerate campus antisemitism, the university could lose access to federal funding.”

You can read Rep. Banks’ letter here

The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights opened the investigation on Monday, February 5, 2023. The investigations have been opened under Title VI, a law that bans discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in any institution or program that receives federal funding from the U.S. Department of Education.

According to the complaint, the PSC is eligible to receive funding from the university.

Pamela Whitten, IU President

In her 2023 State of the University address, IU President Pamela Whitten said, “IU stands, as always, against all forms of hatred, discrimination, and harassment.  They have no place in our university and will not be tolerated. Now more than ever, it is imperative that all of us recommit ourselves to strengthening Indiana University as a place where we take care of each other. We must be forever committed to fostering kindness, respect, and compassion across our university community.