Breaking new ground in its enforcement of civil-rights laws, the Education Department is investigating whether a Columbia University professor discriminated against a student by steering her away from a course on the basis of her Jewish background.
In the enforcement of federal fair-housing laws, "steering" is said to occur when real-estate agents—even if well-intentioned—consider potential home buyers' race or ethnicity in directing them toward some neighborhoods and away from others. The investigation of Columbia University by the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights is examining whether something analogous might have happened there, when an academic department chairwoman allegedly discouraged an Orthodox Jewish student from taking a class taught by a professor who has been accused of anti-Israel bias.
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