The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation into IU on Feb. 5 in response to a Title VI complaint received Dec. 14. Zachary Marschall, editor in chief of Campus Reform, a national conservative media organization, alleges in the complaint that IU failed to adequately respond to antisemitism on campus.
Campus Reform is owned by the Leadership Institute, an organization which trains conservative activists. Marschall is an adjunct professor at the University of Kentucky and describes himself as a “traditionalist conservative culture writer.”
On Feb. 1, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Marschall filed 21 complaints against universities. The OCR has opened investigations into several of them, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Northwestern University, Temple University, Brown University and Binghamton University.
“Too many Americans do not know how to recognize antisemitism and too few Jews feel comfortable speaking publicly about their experiences facing hate and discrimination,” Marschall said in a statement to the IDS. “I hope the Department of Education investigations lead to greater awareness about how antisemitism operates and empower students to speak up for themselves.”
The complaint comes after U.S. Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana warned IU in November that the university could lose federal funding if it violated Title VI by condoning or tolerating antisemitism.
RelatedPalestine Solidarity Committee holds vigil for Palestinians killed in Gaza The event was marked by passionate speeches, chants and calls to action.
An article from Campus Reform regarding the complaint references statements made during protests in support of Palestine at IU.
One includes the chant, “from the River to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Another references a Facebook post from a protester at IU where someone wrote “My heart is with the Palestinians and my wrath for the Zionists.”
Finally, the article describes a quote in an IDS article from Palestine Solidarity Committee member Bryce Greene during an Oct. 28 protest.
“The mission, first and foremost, is to show our support for the people of Palestine, people of Gaza, as they’re under attack by the Israeli occupation, and to educate people the best we can about what’s going on and counter the endless flood of the one side that you normally see in American press,” the quote reads.
Greene told the IDS he stands by everything he said in the quote.
“It's obvious that the goal of these complaints is to put pressure on the university to crack down more on speech,” Greene said. “Even after this complaint amounts to nothing, the university may respond by increasing scrutiny on pro Palestine voices. We hope that the university will resist these pressures.”
When evaluating whether to investigate a complaint, the OCR must determine the entity that was complained about is under OCR’s jurisdiction. The complaint also must fall under relevant anti-discrimination laws and must be filed within 180 days of when the complainant first became aware of the alleged discrimination.
While President Joe Biden’s administration has stressed the role of the OCR in investigating potential incidents of Islamophobia and antisemitism in the wake of the Oct. 7 attacks and the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, an open investigation does not automatically mean a violation has occurred.
In an emailed statement to the IDS, Mark Bode, executive director of media relations at IU, said the university is aware of the complaint.
“To be clear, maintaining a safe and healthy learning, living and working environment for all of our students, faculty and staff remains our top priority and acts of antisemitism and Islamophobia are not tolerated at IU,” the statement read. “The university will comply fully with this investigation.”