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‘Deeply disturbing’: Federal commissioner responds to allegations of anti-Semitism at Stanford diversity trainings

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Hoover Tower and the entrance to Memorial Church at Stanford University. Photo: Frank Schulenburg.

A commissioner for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) this week addressed allegations that diversity and inclusion training at Stanford University fostered a work environment hostile to Jews, calling them “troubling”.

The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights filed a complaint in June with the EEOC, alleging in part that Stanford’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programming promoted tropes of Jewish power and forced two Jewish clinicians to join separate focus groups for whites. attendees.

Addressing the controversy during a virtual panel on Antisemitism in the Workplace on Monday, EEOC Commissioner Andrea Lucas presented a slide showing newspaper headlines about antisemitic incidents in various sectors of the labor force. -workers, saying, “Reports have been released nationally on some of these issues, from Wall Street JournalI to the New York Time and a variety of other journals and journals.

These incidents “include the referenced allegations, and those deeply troubling, that the Brandeis Center has brought to light about Stanford’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program, which has been covered up to the New York Times in opinion pieces about this situation, allegedly involving the segregation of Jewish employees into white affinity groups affirming and passing white people, segregated from other people of color, dismissing allegations of Zoom bombings with swastikas, for fear it would distract from anti-Black anti-racist concerns.

Lucas urged employers to prioritize “anti-Semitism in your anti-harassment, anti-discrimination and diversity trainings.”

“On the other hand, in addition to explicitly condemning anti-Semitism in policies related to DEI and anti-harassment, you need to vet those policies carefully,” she continued. “Make sure that policies and trainings that seek to encourage diversity and inclusion are truly inclusive for everyone and do not inadvertently or perhaps mistakenly end up contributing to anti-Semitism in ways that may include assumptions and stereotypes about power or privilege.”

Kenneth Marcus, founder of the Brandeis Center and former head of the Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office, addressed employment anti-Semitism issues on the same panel, saying, “Troublingly, some of the incidents of bias and hatred appear in the very institutions that aim to combat hatred and prejudice, that is to say [DEI] programs that are now proliferating in higher education and throughout the workplace.

A former Jewish Stanford University employee, whose experiences were cited in the Brandeis Center’s complaint to the EEOC, said The Algemeiner last June that she “was placed [a] white affinity group based on the idea that I can hide behind my white identity. The incident, she says, “disturbed” her. “Not only did it feel like a betrayal to my heritage, but to my parents,” she said.

Discussing similar complaints, Brandeis Center President Alyza Lewin said The Algemeiner at the time that such demands from Jewish employees are “overly simplistic, and what I call a caricature of Jewish identity, which, unfortunately, overlaps with anti-Semitic Jewish stereotypes”.

“Jewish identity is much more complex, rich and nuanced,” she explained. “Part of that is that Jews have historically also suffered from discrimination and oppression.”

A Stanford University spokesperson said The Algemeiner Wednesday that an investigation into the allegations behind the Brandeis Center’s EEOC complaint found “no evidence of discrimination.”

“The investigator concluded that certain behaviors of individuals during a small number of sessions violated Stanford’s code of conduct and no-harassment policy,” she said. “Although Stanford firmly believes that the behavior displayed does not violate any legal standard, the investigator has concluded that it is prohibited by applicable Stanford policies.”

“This lower threshold allows the university to step in and address issues before they reach the level of a violation of the law and contributes to a better workplace,” the spokesperson added.

On Thursday, Lewin called on the university to take steps to prevent future harassment of Jewish employees, such as reforms to include Jewish identity and anti-Semitism in the university’s centralized DEI curriculum.

“Stanford can say it is committed to fostering a diverse and inclusive work environment and rejects anti-Semitism, but actions speak louder than words,” she said. The Algemeiner. “Unless serious corrective action is taken, Stanford’s DEI programs risk continuing to foster a hostile and unwelcoming environment for Jews, and completely undermining the purpose for which Stanford’s DEI program was developed.”

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with comments from Brandeis Center President Alyza Lewin