‘Blames the Victims’: US Jewish Groups Denounce Vermont University’s Response to Antisemitism Allegations


Jewish groups across the US are calling on the University of Vermont (UVM) to acknowledge Jewish students’ concerns that antisemitism on its campus is harmful and pervasive.

In August, the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) opened a civil rights investigation into UVM based on a complaint filed last year by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and Jewish on Campus (JOC).

The complaint included allegations that no university employees were punished after Jewish students were harassed by a teaching assistant for embracing Zionism and claimed that UVM’s Hillel Center was pelted with rocks in an act of vandalism.

“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” Deut. 14:2

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On Thursday, University of Vermont president Suresh Garimella called the allegations “false claims” and accused media outlets that reported on them of propagating an “uninformed narrative.”

In response, twenty-one American Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Simon Wiesenthal Center, and Hillel International, charged in a joint statement that Garimella “has essentially chosen to blame the victims.”

“Simply put, President Garimella fails to condemn the existence of significant antisemitism on UVM’s campus,” the statement said. “Instead of summoning the courage that other university leaders across the country have shown in acknowledging the problem or offering support for Jewish students who are fearful about identifying publicly as Jewish, the UVM President’s statement doubles down and refuses to take responsibility.” 

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