The US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has opened an investigation of Columbia University upon the request of The Institute for Jewish and Community Research (IJCR). The OCR is investigating allegations that university faculty "steered" a Jewish student away from taking a class.
In January, the student got some troubling guidance from Barnard's Middle East studies department chair. The young woman told the chair that she was interested in taking a course on the Arab world with Prof. Massad, who is notorious for his animosity towards Zionism. Massad, whether fairly or not, has been repeatedly accused of anti-Semitism. The chair looked at the young woman, whose Orthodox background is apparent in her modest attire. Then, as the student tells the story, the chair told her that she would not be "comfortable" in Massad's class and that she should instead consider a course on Ancient Israel.
According to Professor Kenneth Marcus, the Director of IJCR and the former head of OCR, Columbia violated the Jewish student's civil rights under Title VI of the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 by deterring the student from taking the class.
By suggesting that a Jewish student may feel uncomfortable in Professor Massad's class, Columbia faculty are implicitly acknowledging allegations that Massad creates a hostile environment for Jewish and pro-Israel students. But instead of creating classroom environments where all student feel welcome, Columbia seems to think segregation of Jews might be the solution.