The University of Vermont administration recently announced new plans to support Jewish students on campus. The push comes after the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation into a complaint filed last year that alleged the university had inadequately responded to incidents that discriminated against Jewish students.
Suresh Garimela, the university’s president, released a statement Friday condemning anti-Semitism and highlighting a new webpage dedicated to Jewish student life. The page describes Jewish social, cultural, and educational programs on campus; explains the process for reporting incidents of bias; and lists a number of steps the university has taken or plans to take to improve the lives of Jewish students, such as administrators meeting with Jewish students to learn more about their experiences.
“I want my message to be clear to the entire campus community: anti-Semitism, in any form, will not be tolerated at UVM,” Garimello said. “Behavior that targets and threatens Jewish individuals or groups, or that unreasonably interferes with their ability to participate in UVM programs and activities, is unacceptable and completely contrary to the values of Our Common Ground. You have my assurance that if a member of our community is found guilty of such conduct, they will be held fully accountable.”
University leaders also recently met with the Board of Directors of Hillel on Campus, an organization for Jewish students, to share ideas about new professional training and community engagement opportunities that could improve religious literacy and anti-Semitism education on campus.
In September, Garimello had previously drawn criticism from some Jewish rights groups for denying the initial allegations of anti-Semitism leveled against the university.
Matt Vogel, executive director of the Hillel campus, wrote an email to community members detailing “the progress UVM has made to better support Jewish students on campus during a time of rising anti-Semitism.”
“The UVM Hillel Board of Directors and I believe these steps represent a strong move in the right direction,” he said.