WILL Files Second Federal Discrimination Complaint Against Prominent University During Nationwide Pro-Hamas Protests


The News: The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has filed a federal Title VI complaint against Rutgers University (“the University”) on behalf of the Young America’s Foundation (“YAF”), which has an active chapter on the University’s campus. The complaint challenges the University’s illegal promise to prioritize the “needs” of “Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian” students over those of Israeli and Jewish students. The agreement illegally promises over $2 million in scholarships based on national origin, as well as a pledge to set aside “designated physical space” for Arab students. As a recipient of federal funds, Rutgers University is subject to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination “on the grounds of race, color, or national origin.”  

The Quotes: WILL Deputy Counsel, Dan Lennington, stated, “Many academic institutions are choosing to appease pro-Hamas campus protesters by making illegal promises of scholarships and space for student organizations. But providing a benefit based on a student’s race or national origin is illegal. This is our second complaint challenging this illegal appeasement strategy and we are not done. We will continue to oppose universities that flout federal law and shirk their duty to provide a race-neutral education environment free of harassment and discrimination.” 

Rutgers Business School student Jeremy Li, stated, “What Rutgers University has done defies the law and common sense. Like many students believe, hard work and merit should be driving values here at our school. I am proud to stand with YAF on campus and join students across the country who have said enough is enough.” 

Additional Background: On May 2, University officials entered an agreement with the pro-Hamas campus protesters. Chancellor Conway issued a press release explaining that the agreement’s purpose was to address the “needs” of “Arab, Muslim, and Palestinian” students. The needs of Israeli and Jewish students are not discussed in either the agreement or the press release. The agreement includes at least two promises by university officials to discriminate against students based on race and national origin.  

First, the officials agreed to “work with a committee of students, faculty, and staff to implement support for 10 displaced Palestinian students to finish their education at Rutgers.” The University estimates that the cost of attendance for one year is $57,138; accordingly, ten four-year scholarships covering all costs is about a $2.3 million investment. In the agreement, the University did not agree to provide a single dollar of support for displaced students from other areas of the world. Second, officials agreed to “develop a plan for the creation of an Arab Cultural Center,” which will be a “designated physical space.” 

WILL’s Equality Under the Law Project: Since 2021, WILL attorneys have represented over 50 clients in 21 states as part of its Equality Under the Law Project. So far, WILL has won six times in court, and with many cases still pending.  WILL was recently awarded over $350,000 by a federal court after it successfully sued the Biden Administration for race discrimination. Find out more at www.defendequality.org.  

Read more:
Complaint, 5.6.24

Dan Lennington

Dan Lennington

Deputy Counsel

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