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Civil Rights Complaint Against University of Illinois Details Years of Systemic Antisemitism at School

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Jewish students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) have faced an “unrelenting campaign of antisemitic harassment,” according to a complaint filed by an education advocacy organization with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

Announced on Friday, the complaint — prepared by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, together with the Jewish United Fund and Hillel International — stated that over the last five years, Jewish students at the UIUC campus had been “subjected to an alarming increase in antisemitism and anti-Zionism.”

Over that period, multiple swastikas have been scrawled across the campus; menorahs and mezuzahs have been vandalized; and windows of Jewish fraternities have been “smashed with bricks,” according to the statement.

Pro-Palestinian students at UIUC have also glorified members of terrorist organizations, assailed Jewish students and their allies with epithets like “Nazi” and “white supremacist” and turned university diversity training “into anti-Israel indoctrination,” the complaint said.

Last week, one Jewish and pro-Israel student resigned her position in the school senate because of the persistent antisemitism she encountered.

“I have come to understand that this is not a place where any of you really care about human rights, fairness, no hate having a home here, because none of you are willing to take a chance and listen to what I have to say, because you are jaded by your hate of Jews and Israel,” the student declared in her resignation speech. “Unfortunately, it is clouding your ability to represent all students on campus.”

Alyza D. Lewin — director of the Brandeis Center — said the Jewish organizations had gone public with their complaint after they became frustrated with the inaction of the UIUC authorities.

“We gave UIUC seven months since the complaint was filed to address the ongoing harassment,” Lewin noted in a statement. “In the face of continuous stall tactics and almost no action from the university, we decided to publicize our efforts.”

Continued Lewin: “We hope public awareness of this dire situation will prompt the university to finally acknowledge and address the egregious anti-Semitic harassment it has swept under the rug for far too long.”