Crime, Law and Justice

Department of Education investigates U antisemitism allegations

A large university sign
A sign for the University of Minnesota on the West Bank in Minneapolis is pictured.
Ben Hovland | MPR News 2023

The U.S. Department of Education has launched an investigation into the University of Minnesota this week over allegations of antisemitism on the Twin Cities campus.

In a letter last month, former University of Minnesota regent Michael Hsu and law professor Richard Painter asked federal education officials to look into alleged Civil Rights Act violations.

The department lists the U among dozens of educational institutions that are “under investigation for discrimination involving shared ancestry.”

Painter and Hsu argue that a faculty statement posted to the Department of Gender Women and Sexuality Studies website last fall is antisemitic because it condemns Israel while “justifying the terrorist attacks by Hamas.”

Faculty members wrote that Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 attack “is not self-defense but the continuation of a genocidal war against Gaza.”

“This is not about being pro-Palestinian,” Painter told MPR News in December. “This is about official statements of departments on websites paid for by the Minnesota taxpayers that justify the actions of Hamas.”

In a statement Wednesday, the university said it “will be fully responsive to the Office for Civil Rights throughout its inquiry. The university stands firmly in support of speech and actions that provide an atmosphere of mutual respect, free from any form of prejudice and intolerance, as our Board of Regents policies state. We will continue to work every day to uphold these values while balancing our legal responsibilities to honor free speech.”

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