US Department of Education resolves discrimination complaints at CUNY

The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights found that some CUNY schools failed to respond properly to allegations of discrimination based on national origin and shared ancestry.

Edric Robinson

Jun 18, 2024, 10:48 PM

Updated 26 days ago

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The U.S. Department of Education has resolved nine discrimination complaints against CUNY schools, including two involving students at Hunter College. This resolution highlights the need for CUNY schools to enhance their efforts in ensuring all students feel safe and respected.
The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights found that some CUNY schools - including Hunter College, Brooklyn College, Queens College, Baruch College, and the CUNY School of Law - failed to respond properly to allegations of discrimination based on national origin and shared ancestry. These complaints date back to the 2019-2020 school year.
At Hunter College, two significant cases were highlighted. In the first case, Jewish students reported facing antisemitic harassment during Zoom classes in 2021. Classmates displayed Palestinian flags and made anti-Israel statements, which were not effectively addressed by professors or the administration.
The second case involved students of Palestinian, Arab, Muslim and South Asian backgrounds who felt discriminated against following a pro-Palestinian rally in October 2023. Their harassment reports were not fully investigated, and the college removed pro-Palestinian flyers while allowing pro-Israeli ones to remain. Additionally, a pro-Palestinian film event was canceled, unlike similar pro-Israeli events.
The resolution requires CUNY to take specific actions, including reopening investigations of past complaints, training staff to handle these issues better, and conducting surveys at all 25 campuses to understand the campus climate. CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez stated, “Colleges serve as beacons of free speech and expression, but the safety of our students, staff, and faculty is paramount. CUNY is committed to providing an environment that is free from discrimination and hate, and these new steps will ensure that there is consistency and transparency in how complaints are investigated and resolved."
By the end of 2024, CUNY will also complete reviews of its discrimination and antisemitism policies. This agreement aims to ensure that all 25 CUNY schools protect students from discrimination.


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