University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Department of Education Resolve Complaint Over Anti-Semitism at Gaza Conference

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the U.S. Department of Education have resolved a complaint stemming from a campus conference on Gaza earlier this year in which a hip-hop artist allegedly made an anti-Semitic comment.

The complaint, filed in April with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, claimed the university discriminated against students of Jewish descent after Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar’s performance at a conference titled “Conflict Over Gaza: People, Politics and Possibilities.”

At issue was whether Nafar’s comment — and by extension the university that invited him — violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in any program receiving federal dollars from the Department of Education.

While not admitting to a violation of Title VI, the university agreed to take steps to ensure students are not subjected to a hostile environment and to respond to allegations of anti-Semitic harassment.

“As part of that agreement, I reaffirm the University’s commitment to creating a place where every member of our community feels safe and respected and can thrive in an environment free from anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination and harassment,” Kevin M. Guskiewicz, UNC’s interim chancellor, wrote in a statement.

But the agreement, signed Oct. 14 but made public Monday (Nov. 25), does not end the Department of Education’s probe into the Middle East studies program run jointly by the University of North Carolina and Duke University.

In August, the department ordered the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies to revise its offerings or risk losing future funding from a federal grant that’s awarded to dozens of universities to support foreign language instruction.

That probe is ongoing, said Angela Morabito, a Department of Education spokesperson.

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Source: Religion News Service