Education Dept. orders UNC to adjust policies after anti-Semitism complaint

Education Dept. orders UNC to adjust policies after anti-Semitism complaint
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The Education Department has ordered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to update its policies following an anti-Semitism complaint, according to a resolution obtained by The Hill.

The university announced it will extend its anti-bias training and clearly ban anti-Semitic language after reaching the resolution with the Education Department. 

Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said the university is committed to making its campus “free from anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination," according to The Associated Press.

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Rep. George HoldingGeorge Edward Bell HoldingThe 14 other key races to watch on Super Tuesday GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts House GOP vows to use impeachment to cut into Democratic majority MORE (R-N.C.) called on the department to investigate the university after a joint Duke University-University of North Carolina Middle East studies program hosted a Palestinian rapper accused of having an anti-Jewish bias, at a conference in March, the AP reported.

About two weeks after the rapper's appearance, anti-Semitic flyers were found on campus, according to a letter from the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to the university.

The university's Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office also were notified that "5-6 books detailing education among Nazis, including a book with a swastika on the cover" were left out on a library table.

The incidents led to a complaint being filed with federal officials in April.

The university agreed in the resolution signed Oct. 14 to issue an anti-harassment statement by the end of the year. UNC at Chapel Hill also said it would amend its policy on prohibited harassment, including a clear definition of anti-Semitism and examples, before Oct. 31.

The resolution also required the university to hold at least one meeting a year for students, faculty and staff to discuss any experiences of prohibited harassment. The Education Department also requested UNC at Chapel Hill update its training to include anti-Semitic harassment, which will be submitted to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) by June 2020.

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The OCR concluded its investigation in a letter Nov. 6, saying UNC "took steps to respond" to the rapper's performance and its aftermath through official statements condemning the anti-Semitic actions. The office added that it will track UNC's progress in fulfilling the resolution requirements

The Education Department has faced off with the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies in the past few months. The department threatened in September to remove funding for the program if the consortium did not adjust their programming, which the department said disproportionately portrays the “positive aspects of Islam.”

The consortium was ultimately granted the funding for the next year, but the department has stood its ground that the program needs to be expanded to include other religions beyond Islam in order to continue to obtain federal funding.

Updated: 3:55 p.m.