(Los Angeles, CA -- October 7, 2019) – University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) student Shayna Lavi and the StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department have submitted a complaint against UCLA to the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”). The complaint alleges that the university is in violation of its obligations under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, due to the administration's inaction in response to antisemitism experienced by UCLA Jewish students.
Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color and national origin in programs receiving federal financial assistance. According to OCR, Jewish students enjoy the protections of Title VI, including protection from antisemitic harassment that creates a hostile environment. Ms. Lavi’s experiences, as detailed in the complaint, fall squarely within OCR’s definition of antisemitism.
Ms. Lavi was subjected to ongoing antisemitic discrimination and harassment during the spring 2019 quarter. This began with a diatribe by a guest lecturer in one of her classes, "Anthropology M144P: Constructing Race." The lecturer, San Francisco State University Professor Rabab Abdulhadi, singled out Ms. Lavi and attacked a core component of her Jewish identity, such as by calling Zionists "white supremacists." After Ms. Lavi objected to this attack, Ms. Lavi’s professor, who had invited this guest lecturer, proceeded to target her with additional harassment in subsequent classes. When informed of this, UCLA failed to respond adequately or effectively.
In addition to Ms. Lavi’s experiences, the complaint describes a pattern of antisemitic incidents at UCLA dating to 2012, and the administration’s failure to address this hostile climate.
“StandWithUs is proud to support Ms. Lavi and commends her courageous willingness to confront antisemitism at UCLA. UCLA's Jewish community remains vibrant and resilient, with strong support from Hillel and other Jewish institutions on campus. At the same time, there is no excuse for the UCLA administration's disturbing indifference to years of well-documented abuse and harassment of Jewish students. It is time for OCR to hold UCLA's administration accountable and demand that it comply with its legal requirements under Title VI,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs.
The StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department worked in conjunction with the StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism to aid Ms. Lavi in submitting the complaint.
Click here to read the complaint letter.
StandWithUs (SWU) is an eighteen year-old, international, non-profit and non-partisan Israel education organization that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism.
Through university fellowships, high school internships, middle school curricula, conferences, materials, social media, educational films and missions to Israel, StandWithUs supports people around the world who want to educate their schools and communities about Israel.
Based in Los Angeles, the organization has chapters and offices throughout the U.S., in Israel, the UK, Canada and Brazil.
For the last 6 years, SWU has consistently received the highest possible ratings from Charity Navigator (4 stars) and Guidestar (Platinum)