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University of Southern California, May 5, 2019

The US Department of Education has announced that its Office of Civil Rights has launched an investigation into allegations the University of Southern California (USC) did not adequately address claims of hate against a Jewish student leader at the school.

The Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM) welcomed the decision to open the probe into the intense harassment aimed at the student in 2020.

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The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a partner of CAM, filed the complaint alleging a concerted campaign of antisemitic harassment was leveled against Rose Ritch, a Jewish student at USC.

Ritch was targeted for her “shared ancestral and ethnic characteristics,” according to the complaint which said the campaign of harassment sought to exclude her from the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) because of her Jewish identity.

The Brandeis Center wrote that despite being made aware of the anti-Semitic abuse, “USC administrators did not speak out to condemn or call for the abatement of the anti-Semitic harassment and discrimination directed at Ritch on social media.

“The University’s failure to publicly condemn the antisemitic harassment or vindicate Rose by acknowledging that she had done nothing wrong and had been wrongly targeted on the basis of her identity, made it impossible for Rose to serve as student body president,” the Brandeis Center wrote.

“We welcome the decision but are ultimately saddened that the federal authorities have to intervene when the university authorities had ample time and opportunity to investigate the harassment of a Jewish student because of her identity,” said CAM CEO Sacha Roytman Dratwa.

“The feeling of insecurity and a lack of protection that Jewish students feel across American universities has to come to an end.

“Jews are constantly and consistently under attack, and it is being constantly ignored by those who should be protecting them.

“USC has failed its Jewish students by its lack of action and defense of Ritch who was clearly victimized as a Jew.

“This is not about one individual but a trend targeting Jews and keeping them away from student office and the public space,” Dratwa said.

The reign of immunity and impunity for anti-Semites on university campuses must end, and we hope that this step by the Department of Education will be the first to do this.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.