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UC Davis Sued over Anti-Jewish Campus Environment

A lawsuit filed against UC Davis is accusing the university of mistreating and discriminating toward Jewish students, describing them as “victims of a pervasively hostile and antisemitic campus climate.”

The StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice (SCLJ) filed a Title VI complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights on Monday, according to a release from the organization. The release explains that the harassment has led to students hiding their Jewish identities, skipping class and losing sleep.

SCLJ is also accusing the university of being largely inactive in putting a stop to the harassment.

“UC Davis has neglected and ignored its Jewish and Israeli students’ complaints of rising campus antisemitism. In doing so, the school has allowed UC Davis to become a hotbed for anti-Jewish bigotry, failing their obligation under Title VI. This complaint details the administration’s indifference to antisemitism and calls on them to remedy the situation by committing to enforce their own policies and disciplining perpetrators of antisemitic conduct. UC Davis must be held accountable and Jewish, Israeli and Zionist students must be protected,” SCLJ Director Yael Lerman said in the release.

The complaint is asking the Office for Civil Rights to investigate all incidents targeting the Jewish community. It also seeks to require UC Davis to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism and to be guided by that definition where discrimination is suspected. SCLJ also wants UC Davis to train staff and administrators on Jewish identity and antisemitism.

In contrast to SCLJ’s accusations, UC Davis said it immediately reaches out to those impacted when complaints of antisemitism or offensive behavior are received.

“Chancellor Gary S. May has spoken out forcefully against antisemitism, and has joined UC President Michael V. Drake and chancellors across the University of California in condemning bigotry and intolerance,” University spokesperson Bill Kisliuk said in a statement. “We take student safety very seriously, and follow up on all reports of students not having an equal opportunity to pursue their education or that may need protection due to lack of safety.”