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U.S. investigates UC Santa Cruz for alleged hostility to Jewish students; campus denies allegation

March 17, 2011 |  4:05 pm

The U.S. Department of Education is investigating a complaint from a Hebrew language lecturer that the UC Santa Cruz campus was a hostile environment for Jewish students because of anti-Israel protests and attitudes, officials confirmed Thursday. The campus has denied the allegation and predicted that the probe would find the claim unmerited.

The federal department’s Office of Civil Rights is responding to a 2009 allegation, according to a spokesman who emphasized that opening an investigation does not imply any determination in the case. UC Santa Cruz lecturer Tammi Rossman-Benjamin contends that the university has sponsored events about the Middle East that take on anti-Semitic overtones and are hostile to Jewish students and that professors during classes make anti-Israel comments that make it difficult for students.

Carole Rossi, UC Santa Cruz’s campus counsel, said the school looks forward to participating in the investigation and is “confident that the agency will determine that the allegations are unfounded.”

“Our campus is absolutely committed to the enforcement of policies that protect every individual from unlawful discrimination and harassment — and that value and support an atmosphere of personal and intellectual freedom,” she said in a statement.

-- Larry Gordon