Education Department launches new probes of Stanford and 5 other schools over alleged discrimination

The U.S. Education Department announced investigations Tuesday into Stanford University, UCLA and four other colleges over alleged ethnic discrimination, including antisemitic or Islamophobic activities, on the campuses.

The remaining schools under new scrutiny of alleged violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act are Rutgers University; the University of California, San Diego; the University of Washington; and Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington.

Title VI prohibits discrimination based on race or national origin, including shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, the department said.

Details about what led to the investigations were not clear. A spokesperson for the Education Department said Tuesday the agency cannot comment on specific investigations.

Image: Students at of the University of California, Los Angeles campus on, Nov. 17, 2021.
Students at the UCLA campus in Los Angeles on Nov. 17, 2021.Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images file

Stanford said it will work with federal investigators.

“Stanford is fully committed to a campus environment free of discrimination and harassment, and one in which students of all backgrounds, national origins, and religions are supported and have the opportunity to thrive,” it said in a statement.

Rutgers also plans to “fully cooperate” with the federal investigation.

“Rutgers stands against antisemitism and against hate in all its pernicious forms,” it said in a statement. “The university strives to be a safe and supportive environment for all our students, faculty, and staff. We reject absolutely intolerance based on religion, national origin, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or political views.”

UC San Diego also said it takes the allegations seriously and will cooperate fully with the investigation.

The University of Washington said that its priority is the safety and security of all students, faculty and staff and that the school will provide the information necessary to resolve this matter.

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights launched similar investigations in November into more than a half-dozen colleges and universities, as well as a local school district.

The schools include Harvard University, Cornell University, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, Lafayette College, Wellesley College and the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, along with the Maize Unified School District in Kansas.

Last month, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona told NBC News the priorities in the investigations are protecting students on campus, protecting free speech on campus and ensuring the transparency of the inquiries.

Since Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7, numerous incidents have been reported at U.S. schools, with some resulting in arrests.

On Tuesday, Rutgers-New Brunswick said it had suspended organization activity for Students for Justice in Palestine, according to a statement obtained by NBC New York.

The student group was notified Monday of the “interim suspension” based on multiple complaints that accuse it of disrupting classes, a program, meals and students studying.

The group also is accused of vandalism during an event at the Rutgers Business School. The alleged behavior violates the University Code of Student Conduct, the school said.

The university’s student organization policies and procedures allow for the suspension of a student organization’s activities when the university determines that continued activities “pose a substantial and immediate threat to the safety and well-being of others,” the statement said.