The Columbia Spectator has reported that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating a complaint made against Columbia University on behalf a Jewish Barnard College student. The student was allegedly “steered” away from taking a course with a professor who is known for being critical of Israel and who has been accused of anti-Semitism. “Steering” is considered a form of illegal discrimination and a violation of civil rights.
The complaint was filed with the OCR by Kenneth Marcus, the director of the Initiative on Anti-Semitism at the Institute for Jewish and Community Research after he was informed of the incident by Mailman School of Public Health professor Judith Jacobson, who had heard about it from a third party. The student, whose name has not been revealed, is reportedly supportive of the actions that have been taken on her behalf.
The complaint alleges that last January, Professor Rachel McDermott, then-chair of Barnard’s Asian and Middle Eastern Cultures department, discouraged the student from taking a class with Joseph Massad, associate professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia.