Thu. May 30th, 2024

Why Biden Should Show Columbia University Some Tough Love and Cut Off Its Financial Aid

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May26,2024

America’s elite universities are now routinely the preferred venue for rage-filled pro-Hamas, anti-Israel, anti-Jewish violence and intimidation.

Little seems to have changed since last December’s congressional hearings on campus antisemitism. Testifying before Congress, university presidents from Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were almost tongue-tied when questioned about their inept responses to antisemitic demonstrations on their campuses.

UPenn’s then-president stressed the need to examine the “context” of every reported antisemitic incident. Harvard’s then-president condescendingly instructed elected representatives that Harvard’s tolerance for the protesters is consistent with free expression, although she did at least acknowledge that calls for the genocide of Jews and elimination of Israel were “objectionable” views.

Columbia University, New York University and other universities continue to be the sites of virulent antisemitic demonstrations, leading administrators and faculty to repeatedly cancel classes, resort to virtual instruction and warn students to take shelter (that is, hide) to avoid antisemitic harassment.

These appalling circumstances invite the question: Other than Harvard and UPenn dismissing their presidents, what have the universities really done to stop the intimidation of Jewish faculty and students?

Columbia created a “Task Force on Antisemitism” to address “hateful speech and acts directed at Jewish people.” But even as the task force ponders its mission to “address the root causes” of antisemitic behavior, “antisemitic threats, images, and other violations” on campus have grown exponentially.

Large homemade signs appeared on campus this week at the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” including one which reads, “PARADISE LIES IN THE SHADOW OF SWORDS.” Another says, “GLORY TO HE (sic) WHO MAKES THE OCCUPIER TASTE BITTERNESS,” showcasing all the grammar that a $70,000-a-year education can buy. And both signs were addressed to “THE SCUM OF NATIONS AND PIGS OF THE EARTH,” which of course refers to Jews.

Harvard also set up a task force to study “reports of antisemitic and Islamophobic acts.” Promising to “combat antisemitism and anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias,” it held listening sessions and its co-chair announced that “all sides feel a great deal of pain that is quite similar.”

No one does moral equivalence better than the Ivies.

Strangely, in an age where university administrators claim that words can be violence, words haven’t yet quelled antisemitic violence and intimidation — particularly at Columbia and NYU.

In the face of obvious inaction by the universities, what can be done? The Department of Education has “program participation agreements” with every university in the country where students receive federal student financial aid. Each program participation agreement requires that universities comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin.

And the Education Department correctly interprets Title VI’s national origin provision to bar discrimination involving religion for ethnic or religious groups with “shared ancestry.”

So, by failing to protect Jewish students and faculty from antisemitic intimidation and violence, universities have failed to fulfill their statutory obligations under the program participation agreements.

The Biden administration should immediately inform universities that continued failure to fully comply with the anti-discrimination requirements of Title VI will result in the immediate loss of federal financial aid at noncompliant universities.

To date, the Department’s actions appear to be very limited and superficial. It opened 27 discrete investigations on various campuses involving individual allegations of antisemitism and Islamophobia. No word on the status of those investigations has been announced.

In November, the Department issued four pages of guidance regarding the protection of Jewish, Israeli, Muslim, Arab and Palestinian students, warning that students are “entitled to a school environment free from discrimination.”

But the Jewish students and faculty at Columbia, NYU, and other universities clearly aren’t receiving those anti-discriminatory protections from their universities, as required by the guidance.

Why the inaction? Perhaps it is because the Department’s civil rights focus has been elsewhere. Its Office for Civil Rights just issued 1,577 pages of new regulations repurposing Title IX’s historical protections for girls and women to instead create new rights based on “gender identity,” among other revisions.

The Education Department also frequently appears to defer to the financial interests of the universities. Higher education is big business, and billions of dollars flow without restriction to our major universities from Middle Eastern and other countries. Nearly 1 million foreign students are enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities and account for around 25 percent of overall student populations at our elite universities. Tuition from international students is a major stream of income for universities.

In its Oct. 2020 official report on university compliance with foreign funding disclosure requirements, the department revealed widespread compliance failures by these same elite institutions, which have received most of the billions of dollars in previously undisclosed gifts and contracts from China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Russia and other countries.

Hollywood’s Gordon Gekko boasted that “money never sleeps” and that “greed…is good” because it “clarifies” interests. Today, Gekko might prefer being a university administrator, sitting atop billions in endowments, enjoying limited or no interference from those providing its massive taxpayer-funded revenue streams.

Politicians who have built careers attacking and investigating Wall Street greed are missing an even juicier target by not focusing on sources of major funding for our universities — funding which indisputably affects the responses of our universities to antisemitism on campus.

This week, President Biden correctly described the continuing antisemitism at Columbia as “unacceptable.”

But since words mean little and money talks with the universities, Biden must now do more. He must direct the Education Department to warn Columbia that it is at high risk of losing critical federal financial aid from the taxpayers if the antisemitic intimidation and violence on their campus is allowed to continue.

Paul R. Moore, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney and counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights division, served as chief investigative counsel at the U.S. Department of Education and is a Senior Fellow at the Prague Security Studies Institute.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Why Biden Should Show Columbia University Some Tough Love and Cut Off Its Financial Aid”
  1. It is crucial that universities take concrete actions to combat antisemitism on their campuses. Merely discussing the “context” of incidents is not enough. It’s time for decisive measures to protect Jewish students and faculty from harassment and intimidation.

  2. Are these universities taking any concrete actions to address the rising antisemitism on their campuses?

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