Louis D. Brandeis Center "Seriously Concerned" About Rutgers
April 20, 2012
National Jewish Civil and Human Rights Group "Seriously Concerned" About Rutgers University
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law(LDB) announced today that it is "seriously concerned" about the manner in which Rutgers University is responding to allegations of anti-Semitism. LDB President Kenneth L. Marcusexplained, "We are carefully evaluating the situation at Rutgers, but our preliminary review discloses reason for significant concern. We are offering to work with Rutgers' administration to resolve these problems."
In a letter to Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick issued this afternoon (below), LDB questioned the adequacy of Rutgers' response to a series of pending allegations. Marcus emphasized that this situation is particularly disappointing in light of President McCormick's prior record of excellent work in responding to inappropriate conduct. Rutgers is the subject of a campus anti-Semitism complaint brought by the Zionist Organization of America under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is currently investigating that complaint. In addition, a Rutgers student newspaper recently ran an article praising Adolf Hitler. The student editors insist that the article was intended to be satirical. It carries the by-line of a Jewish Rutgers undergraduate student who lost family members during the Holocaust. The undergraduate has also filed a formal complaint.
Members of the Rutgers Jewish community had approached the Louis D. Brandeis Center for support, based on LDB's significant experience in combating campus anti-Semitism. LDB President Kenneth L. Marcus is a former Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and a former head of OCR. Marcus authored the OCR policy under which government campus anti-Semitism investigations are conducted. He also spearheaded the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights' nationwide campus anti-Semitism public education campaign and authored an award-winning book on campus anti-Semitism, "Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America" (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010)
Richard L. McCormick
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
83 Somerset Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1281
Via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear President McCormick:
We have been contacted by members of the Jewish community on and off of your campus, who have asked us to evaluate your university's recent response to allegations of anti-Semitism against Rutgers students. You may be aware that we are a civil and human rights organization established to combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism in higher education. I am personally a former Staff Director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and former head of the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education. In the past, we have touted your responses to anti-Semitism as an example of best practices which may profitably be emulated by other institutions. Indeed, our public web site continues to hold some of your work out as a model for high performance. For this reason, we have been saddened to read of continuing allegations at your institutions.
Based on our preliminary evaluation of information provided by Rutgers community members, as well as by other civil rights organizations, we are seriously concerned that serious material issues exist your campus. In particular, we are concerned about matters alleged by the Zionist Organization of America as well as by student Aaron Marcus. In addition, we are concerned that your administration's public responses to these incidents have not met the standards set by your prior best practices, nor have they achieved a level of firmness which we would expect to see at a university of Rutgers' caliber.
As we continue our process of evaluation, we are available to meet with you or your designees, or to discuss these matters by telephone. We are also available to discuss with you how the pending matters can be resolved in a manner which best represents Rutgers' institutional values, fully conforms to applicable law, completely respects freedom of expression, and strongly demonstrates your commitment to equal opportunity, non-discrimination, and civil discourse. We will follow-up with your office shortly. In the meantime, you may contact me at this email address.
Very truly yours,
Kenneth L. Marcus
President & General Counsel
The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law
1776 I Street, N.W., Suite 900
Washington, D.C. 20006