U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has expressed concerns over growing anti-Semitism on college campuses across the country.
During a daylong conference on anti-Semitism organized by the Justice Department on Monday, DeVos called the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement “one of the most pernicious threats” to college campuses, The Associated Press reported.
She added that the Trump administration is doing everything in its capacity to put a halt to such activities that promote anti-Israel sentiment on campuses.
“We stand firmly against the disturbing rise in anti-Semitism,” DeVos said. “These campus bullies claim they stand for human rights but we all know BDS stands for anti-Semitism. We are intent on ensuring protection for students across the country.”
A recent Anti-Defamation League report found a surge in white supremacist propaganda distribution on campuses, with 313 cases reported in 2018. Most of the propaganda messages targeted minority groups, including Jews, Blacks, Muslims, non-white immigrants, and members of the LGBTQ community.
Last month, the Education Department also launched an investigation against Duke University and the University of North Carolina over the use of $235,000 in federal grant money to organize anti-Israel events that the department alleges included speakers linked to Palestinian terror groups.
“I have directed the Office of Postsecondary Education to examine the use of funds under this program to determine if the Consortium violated the terms and conditions of its grant, Department regulates, or the HEA,” DeVos wrote in a letter to Rep. George Holding. “It is critical that recipients of grants use funds in accordance with statutory and regulatory requirements, as well as for purposes of the program for which they are funded.”
Earlier this year, Brown University’s student body voted in favor of a divestment referendum that sought to “divest all stocks, funds, endowment and other monetary instruments from companies complicit in human rights abuses in Palestine.”
However, university president Christina Paxson refrained from implementing the referendum and instead called for productive discourse on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict among campus community members through teaching, research, and contributions to diplomacy.