Schools such as Rutgers University and the University of California Berkley have had lawsuits filed against them due to hateful activity directed toward Jewish students and faculty that has ensued on their campuses.
Across these campuses, students believe that the First Amendment is being used to work against the Jewish population. For example, as the Chronicle of Higher Education highlights in its April 27, 2012 issue, Aaron J. Marcus, a senior at Rutgers, was recently misrepresented in a fake news column for the school’s April Fool’s newspaper. The article praised Adolf Hitler.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Marcus complained to the Zionist Organization of America (ZIO), which then filed a complaint with the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. The understandable anxiety of the Jewish community and the quarrel over academic freedom has caused professors to opt out of discussing or highlighting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in their classrooms. The Chronicle goes on to explain that groups such as the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) have their concerns and are fearful that their academic freedom is being threatened by those who complain of anti-Semitism.
In addition to this, some Jewish groups seem to indicate less worry or frustration with these actions. They think the only way to approach the situation is through “a diplomatic approach.” They are fearful of a “politically correct” environment. In fact, some Jewish students have said they are worried that too much action and too many complaints have caused more of a problem and hindered their campus life.
“Title VI isn’t intended to be a panacea for all evils and a remedy for any and every perceived slight,” explained Gerald P. Grieman, a lawyer and co-chairman of a panel on Jewish security and civil rights.
Jewish groups are also finding it difficult to just watch the injustice pass them by. As the Chronicle states, “The pressure on colleges to curb anti-Semitism has grown as campus protests against Israel’s policies have spread. Moreover, the civil-rights office’s pledge to more aggressively fight anti-Semitism followed statements by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and the U.S. State Department defining as anti-Semitic much speech against Israel that is often regarded on campuses as fair game.”
While an institution such as Rutgers is home to thousands of students, they note that it is a rarity to receive complaints about anti-Semitic behavior. Last year, during an on-campus event Jewish students were charged $5 for admittance while others were admitted free of charge. According to Rutgers, outside groups hosted the event and were the primary organizers. They say that they decided to impose the fee to cover security costs due to the fact that many Jewish activists were planning on attending the event in protest. In addition to this, Rutgers states that of their 6,000 Jewish student population, only one of those students issued a complaint about the incident.
Jocelyn Grecko is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia. Jocelyn has spent the past four years in the nation’s capital as a Media Studies undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America. She will graduate in May 2012.
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