New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

NYC Rep. introduces bill to track antisemitism at universities amid ‘ongoing demonstrations’

The proposed legislation threatens to revoke federal funding for U.S. colleges and universities unwilling to hire a “third-party antisemitism monitor.”
Kevin Wu
Pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside Columbia University on April 18 as NYPD officers guard the campus and subway station, following the arrest of over 100 students. (Kevin Wu for WSN)

A New York City representative announced plans for legislation that would allow the federal government to track incidents of antisemitism across U.S. colleges and withdraw funding from those unwilling to cooperate. The bill, introduced by Rep. Ritchie Torres, would mark the first legislation introduced in Congress addressing recent pro-Palestinian demonstrations and encampments at universities like NYU, Columbia University and Yale University.

The bill — the College Oversight and Legal Updates Mandating Bias Investigations and Accountability Act — would require the “third-party antisemitism monitor” to submit quarterly reports evaluating “the progress” a college or university has made “toward combating antisemitism on campus.” The monitor, imposed by the Secretary of State, would also issue policy recommendations to federal, state and local regulators “as needed.” 

If passed, the bill would also require universities to cover all expenses relating to the antisemitism monitor, an April 26 press release states. Institutions will lose federal funding if they refuse to implement the initiative upon individual requests from the Department of Education. NYU spokesperson John Beckman told WSN the university will review the bill when the “language of the legislation” is available.

In the press release, Torres said he wrote the bill “in response to the ongoing demonstrations at Columbia University that have created an environment that many Jewish students view as hostile to their well-being and safety.” When the bill is introduced, it will need to receive a majority vote in the House of Representatives before moving to the Senate. 

“Campus antisemitism is at an all-time high, and American universities are not capable of handling it when left to their own devices,” Torres said. “Jewish students have told my office that they feel completely abandoned by their university administrators and they view Congress as the only avenue for accountability and safety.” 

Last December, Torres introduced a bill calling for universities and workplaces to include antisemitism in diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. He also co-sponsored a resolution “recognizing Israel as America’s legitimate and democratic ally,” as well as the Antisemitism Awareness Act, which demands that the Department of Education permanently implement the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, which includes “the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.”

The bill comes after the New York City Police Department arrested 120 protesters, including students and faculty, at the Gaza Solidarity Encampment in Gould Plaza last week. Amid ongoing protests, pro-Palestinian demonstrators have since set up a new encampment outside the Paulson Center, which has been active for more than 48 hours.

Over the last week, NYU has faced criticism for its deployment of NYPD officers at Gould Plaza. University president Linda Mills wrote a universitywide email following Monday’s encampment, which said NYU “learned that there were intimidating chants and several antisemitic incidents reported,” and that the university asked for “assistance from the NYPD” due to “safety issues.”

The American Association of University Professors issued a statement saying there were no instances of intimidation or antisemitism from the plaza or the identified student and faculty protesters. The group said the “only intimidation present was from the NYPD.”

Three Jewish students are currently suing NYU, alleging it has violated university policy and federal civil rights laws by making the “campus environment even more hostile and frightening for Jewish students.” The students, who filed the complaint last November, are requesting that NYU terminate employees and suspend or expel students “responsible for the antisemitic abuse permeating the school.” The university has denied the allegations and moved to dismiss the lawsuit in March

In 2020, NYU reached a settlement agreement with the U.S Department of Education, agreeing to change how it addresses discrimination “based on shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics,” such as instances of antisemitism, by updating its Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policies. The agreement came after a student accused the university of failing to properly respond to incidents of discrimination against Jewish students in a civil rights complaint.

Contact Dharma Niles at [email protected].

Leave a comment
About the Contributors
Dharma Niles
Dharma Niles, Deputy News Editor
Dharma Niles is a first-year student currently studying journalism and politics at CAS, and has yet to choose between the six different minors she'd also like to pursue. You can generally find her playing NYT games, skittering around the city with a Celsius in hand or on Instagram @dharmaniles.
Kevin Wu
Kevin Wu, Digital Director
Kaiyu (Kevin) Wu is a senior double-majoring in Media, Culture, and Communication and Journalism. He directs everything digital at WSN. You can directly reach him digitally at [email protected].

Comments (0)

Comments that are deemed spam or hate speech by the moderators will be deleted.
All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *