Biden administration outlines actions to address antisemitism on college campuses

The White House on Monday outlined a slew of actions intended to address what it called an “alarming” rise in reported antisemitic incidents at schools and on college campuses in the wake of the Hamas terrorist attack against Israel earlier this month.

Several departments across the federal government have taken steps to increase engagement and address concerns about an increase in antisemitism, a White House official said.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have worked with state and local law enforcement and reached out to provide support directly to college campuses, the official said.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is housed in the DHS, has tasked its 125 protective security advisers and 100 cybersecurity advisers to proactively work with schools to address their needs.

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has expedited its processing of discrimination complaints under a statute that is intended to specifically prohibit certain forms of antisemitism and Islamophobia.

That change in the intake process “will make it easier for students and others who experience such discrimination to seek redress for it.”

The Education Department is also planning to hold several “technical assistance webinars” in the coming months to ensure students facing discrimination on campus have the information they need in order to file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.

The announcements from the DOJ, DHS and Education Department come as several administration officials have individually engaged with Jewish leaders and campus communities. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and White House domestic policy adviser Neera Tanden are scheduled to hold an on-campus roundtable with Jewish students this week.

There have been a handful of high-profile incidents on college campuses in the weeks since Hamas’s terrorist attacks in Israel, which killed roughly 1,400 Israelis. Thousands of Palestinians in Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, have been killed in subsequent airstrikes and shelling carried out by Israeli forces.

Students last week projected anti-Israeli messages onto buildings at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Schools including Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania have lost donors and partnerships over statements seen as antisemitic or insufficiently supportive of Israel.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) last week accused the members of the Students for Justice in Palestine organization of materially supporting Hamas, drawing further attention to protests and organizations on college campuses in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks.

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