Senate Bill Would Combat Antisemitism, Discrimination at Colleges

Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Fetterman introduced the Protecting Students on Campus Act of 2024, which would require colleges to make it easier for students to file complaints.
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Published on January 22, 2024
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  • Colleges and universities would report to the Department of Education (ED) Inspector General once a year with complaint data and how the school solved complaints.
  • The Office of Civil Rights would report monthly to Congress on complaint data nationwide.
  • The ED Inspector General would audit schools with high ratios of complaints to students.

Amid rising antisemitism on some college campuses since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. Senate would make it easier for students to report antisemitism and discrimination at their colleges.

Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy and Democratic Sen. John Fetterman introduced the Protecting Students on Campus Act of 2024 to address growing antisemitism and discrimination on college campuses, according to a press release from Cassidy's office. The goal is to raise students' awareness of their rights to file complaints to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) regarding violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The bill would require higher education institutions that receive federal aid to post awareness posters in high-traffic areas and have a link prominently displayed on the homepage of an institution's website.

Diversity is our strength as a country. No student should face hostility or violence for who they are, what they look like, where they're from, or what they believe, Fetterman said in the press release.

Amid a despicable rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia in our country, I am proud to introduce this bill with my colleague Senator Cassidy to empower students facing discrimination to take action and hold universities accountable in protecting students.

Institutions will also be required to report to the Department of Education (ED) Inspector General once a year with the number of civil rights complaints and how the institution addressed complaints. The ED Inspector General would have the power to audit institutions reporting high ratios of complaints to students.

The assistant secretary of civil rights must also report to Congress each month with total OCR reports by type of discrimination complaint, how OCR will respond to complaints, and how long complaints have been unresolved.

This legislation holds colleges and universities accountable and ensures discrimination against students is never ignored, Cassidy said.

National and state politicians are increasingly concerned with antisemitism on college campuses.

Last month, in a letter, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul promised aggressive enforcement action against colleges and universities allowing antisemitism. She said she was shocked after former University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill, former Harvard President Claudine Gay, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) President Sally Kornbluth appeared before the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce to discuss antisemitism on college campuses.

Hochul said failing to discipline students over antisemitism or calls for genocide would violate the New York State Human Rights Law and Title VI of the Human Rights Act.