Harvard is just one of many schools, K-12 and post-secondary alike, being investigated by the DOE over their handling of discrimination in the weeks since Hamas launched a terror attack against Israel on Oct. 7.
In a letter obtained by Fox News on Tuesday, chief attorney for the OCR's Boston office Kristi Harris explained that the investigation will look into whether Harvard leadership "failed to respond to alleged harassment of students based on their national origin (shared Jewish ancestry and/or Israeli) in a manner consistent with the requirements of Title VI."
"During the investigation," she explained, "OCR is a neutral factfinder, collecting and analyzing relevant evidence from you, the University, and other sources, as appropriate," emphasizing that, "opening the complaint for investigation in no way implies that OCR has made a determination on the merits of the complaint."
The complaint may be resolved at any point during the investigation, or through mediation with Harvard officials themselves.
"Please be advised," Harris added, "that the University must not harass, coerce, intimidate, discriminate, or otherwise retaliate against an individual because that individual asserts a right or privilege under a law enforced by OCR or files a complaint, testifies, assists, or participates in a proceeding under a law enforced by OCR."
In a statement to Boston 25 News, university officials said they "support the work of the Office of Civil Rights to ensure students' rights to access educational programs are safeguarded and will work with the office to address their questions."
The launch of the investigation comes just one week before Harvard President Claudine Gay is slated to testify to Congress alongside her counterparts at MIT and the University of Pennsylvania about antisemitism on campuses across the country.Gay and other members of the school's leadership were criticized for their alleged failure to address anti-Jewish hate as well as their delayed response to an open letter circulated by student groups that seemingly blamed Israel for the Oct. 7 massacre in addition to referring to the attack is as a "military action".
"The delayed Harvard leadership statement fails to meet the needs of the moment," former president and former Clinton Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers wrote on X prior to the release of Gay's updated statement. "Why can't we find anything approaching the moral clarity of Harvard statements after George Floyd's death or Russia's invasion of Ukraine when terrorists kill, rape and take hostage hundreds of Israelis attending a music festival?"
"Why can't we give reassurance that the University stands squarely against Hamas terror to frightened students when 35 groups of their fellow students appear to be blaming all the violence on Israel?" he asked.
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