No apology, admission of wrong-doing, or specific plans to improve
By Guy Page
The University of Vermont said today it has “agreed to a voluntary resolution” of a federal investigation into charges of anti-semitism on campus.
The statement condemns anti-semitism but does not apologize for or even admit anti-semitic events occurred on the campus, as claimed by several Jewish student and community organizations in a complaint to the U.S. Dept. of Education’s civil rights office.
The complaint alleges that UVM violated its Jewish students’ civil rights by failing to respond adequately to multiple incidents last year, including individuals throwing rocks at the campus Hillel; exclusion of pro-Israel students from student groups; and social media posts by a teaching assistant about lowering the grades of Zionist students.
The statement offers no details about the “voluntary resolution.” Nor does it offer a specific plan to reduce anti-semitic incidents, but instead restates in general terms its opposition to anti-semitism “in any form.”
Earlier this year, Jewish On Campus said UVM had the highest rate of reported antisemitic incidents out of all North American college campuses in 2021, according to its own research. The group’s data was criticized by the left-leaning Jewish group IfNotNow for counting what it said was “student critics of Israeli policy” as antisemitic, although former UVM student and complaint participant Avi Zatz said that, even after discounting the incidents that could reasonably be defined as Israel discourse, the number of antisemitic incidents at the school remained high.
The complaint – which was disputed by UVM President Suresh Garimella – followed an intense battle over a proposed City of Burlington anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions resolution last fall. The resolution’s sponsor pulled the bill, citing concerns about antisemitism. Vogel and a Jewish UVM contingent were present at the debate, which the Hillel director described as a time “when I felt an existential threat as a Jew.”
UVM issued the following statement today:
“Today, the university agreed to a voluntary resolution of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights investigation into reports of antisemitism on UVM’s campus. The resolution reflects our ongoing engagement with students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the surrounding community. It also reflects numerous conversations with the Jewish community on campus and important local and national voices on the consequential and complex issue of antisemitism.
“It is UVM’s responsibility to provide equal opportunity to all members of its community to fully express their identity in an environment free from discrimination and harassment. If members of our campus community experience a hostile educational or work environment on account of their identity, including their shared ancestry, UVM will use all tools at its disposal to eliminate the hostile behavior and enable each member of the community to learn and work in an environment unfettered by discrimination and harassment.
“The University of Vermont unequivocally condemns, and will not tolerate, antisemitism in any form. With today’s resolution, UVM has agreed to make its commitment even more tangible to the campus community moving forward.”