George Mason University joins list of schools under federal investigation for antisemitism

Students gather in Harvard Yard to protest against Israel on October 14, 2023, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Students gather in Harvard Yard to protest against Israel on October 14, 2023, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. | JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration is investigating George Mason University following accusations of antisemitism on campus, joining a list of multiple academic institutions facing federal scrutiny after anti-Israel protests erupted after the Jewish State launched a war against Hamas after terrorists attacked the country on Oct. 7.  

In addition to George Mason University, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights launched an investigation into a various schools, including Harvard University and Stanford University. The Department of Education opened its investigation into George Mason on Dec. 22 for “discrimination involving shared ancestry.”

“George Mason University has a proud history of robust inclusivity that includes welcoming students, faculty, and staff from all walks of life,” a spokesperson for the university told The Christian Post on Wednesday.

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“We do so by maintaining a safe and supportive environment to learn, teach and live while observing free speech requirements that the First Amendment demands of all public universities.”

“Our policies, procedures and public statements are transparent and well-documented, and we are confident that the Department of Education's review will confirm that George Mason University has acted well within the letter and spirit of laws and the First Amendment,” the spokesperson added.

In October, the Jewish advocacy group Stop Antisemitism shared a video on social media of a George Mason student ripping down two fliers of hostages taken captive by Hamas. On Oct. 7, the terror group launched attacks against Israel, killing 1,200 people, including 31 Americans, and abducting around 240 others in one of the deadliest attacks in the country’s history.

The person filming the video can be heard asking the student why she was taking down the fliers. The student replied by accusing the man of spreading “propaganda.” After the man requested that the girl give him back one of the fliers that she tore down, the student responded by crumpling the flier and ripping it into tiny pieces. 

“Why do you think this is acceptable? These people were kidnapped,” the man filming the video asked, holding up one of the fliers. “This man isn’t even Israeli; he’s Thai.” 

“That’s great,” the student replied as she walked away with her friend. 

On Oct. 31, George Mason University said in a statement that it had opened an investigation into the incident that occurred in its Johnson Center, declaring that property destruction and doxing are not “constitutionally protected speech.” 

“While we have been advised by the Commonwealth’s Attorney that the conduct does not appear to be criminal in nature, it does violate our student code of conduct and we will address it in accordance with the code,” the statement read. “George Mason University remains committed to maintaining a welcoming environment for everyone and is acting accordingly.” 

The Virginia-based university is not the only school that has garnered negative attention in recent months for anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment on campus. 

Shortly after the terrorist attacks on Israel, a non-faculty instructor at Standford University singled out three Jewish students during a session for the undergraduate course “Civil, Liberal and Global Education.” The instructor told the Jewish students to gather their belongings and stand against the wall, claiming that this is what Israel does to Palestinians. 

At one point, the instructor also asked how many Jews died in the Holocaust. When a student answered that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust, the instructor said, “Colonizers killed more than 6 million. Israel is a colonizer.” 

Harvard University is another school facing scrutiny for antisemitism, and one recent incident that made headlines involved over 30 student groups signing a letter condemning Israel shortly after Hamas’ attacks. In the letter, the students accused Israel of being an “apartheid regime.” 

The university’s president, Claudine Gay, who resigned Tuesday due to allegations she plagiarized multiple academic papers, prompted concerns about how Harvard addresses antisemitism during a recent congressional hearing. 

Last month, Gay testified before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce alongside Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth and former University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill.

At one point during the hearing, Rep. Elisa Stefanik, R-N.Y., asked Gay and the other university presidents if calling for the genocide of Jews violated their code of conduct on bullying or harassment. The Harvard president responded that it could be considered a violation, depending on the context.

Gay’s testimony prompted the law firm Edelson PC to announce that it would not interview students on campus during the university’s 2024 Spring Interview Program. As Reuters reported, the firm has also decided not to partake in Harvard’s on-campus interviewing event in August. 

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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