Multiple faculty groups are calling on University of Vermont leaders to do more to address campus antisemitism after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights concluded the university mishandled antisemitism complaints, The Burlington Free Press reported.
University leaders announced new plans to support Jewish students on campus in accordance with recommendations made by OCR, but some faculty members believe more should be done. The Faculty Senate passed a resolution this month saying that university leaders should involve the Senate more directly in efforts to improve harassment and discrimination policies and review the university’s compliance with OCR recommendations.
An open letter, signed by more than 100 faculty members, also called on University of Vermont president Suresh Garimella to apologize to students who “suffered from the administration’s handling of the OCR investigation,” provide a “full and accurate account” of the handling of past antisemitism complaints, and adopt a “more transparent governance model” that involves conflict resolution strategies. The letter also notes that Garimella's denial, in a September letter to students and employees, that the university inadequately responded to complaints, which was contradicted by the findings of the OCR investigation.
The university provided a statement to The Burlington Free Press stating, “UVM unequivocally condemns, and will not tolerate, antisemitism in any form” and is addressing recommendations made by OCR in conversation with “the campus Jewish community and important local and national voices on the consequential and complex issue of antisemitism.”
“We sincerely appreciate the insights of those who joined us in conversation over the past several months, and we have grown closer as a community because of those conversations,” the statement read. “Our aim now is to ensure that all on our campus hear our commitment to addressing antisemitism, feel empowered to report it whenever it occurs, and are supported in those times in which we must confront it in our community. The faculty senate’s voice on this topic affirms its shared commitment to empowering and supporting students and we are eager to partner with them to meet these imperatives.”