The US Department of Education is investigating Columbia University for allegedly discriminating against a Jewish student.
The probe by the department's Office for Civil Rights concerns an Orthodox student at the Columbia-affiliated Barnard College who was 'steered' by an academic adviser away from a course taught by Professor Joseph Massad because she would be made uncomfortable, according to the complaintant, Kenneth Marcus, the director of the Initiative on Antisemitism at the Institute for Jewish Civil Rights.
Marcus served as the head of the Office for Civil Rights in 2003-04. Massad, a sharp critic of Israel, was cleared of accusations of antisemitism by a Columbia committee some years ago.
'Steering' is a legal term typically used in housing discrimination cases, such as when a black family might be steered away from a white neighbourhood. Columbia President Lee Bollinger said the university has strong policies against discrimination and treats such allegations "very seriously."