Lawmakers introduce House companion to Cassidy-Fetterman campus antisemitism bill

The bill, led by Reps. Kathy Manning and Lori Chavez-DeRemer, aims to increase students’ awareness of their rights to report antisemitism and increase oversight

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Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC) speaks during a press conference on new legislation to support Holocaust education nationwide at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 27, 2023 in Washington, D.C./Rep. Lori Chavez-Deremer (R-OR) arrives to a meeting with House Republicans at the U.S. Capitol Building on October 19, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Reps. Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR) on Wednesday are expected to introduce a House version of the Protecting Students on Campus Act, a bill originally introduced in the Senate by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and John Fetterman (D-PA) earlier this year.

The legislation, seeking to respond to the explosion of antisemitic incidents on college campuses since Oct. 7, aims to increase students’ awareness of their rights to report antisemitism and other forms of discrimination and increase oversight.

The bill would instruct the Department of Education to produce a public awareness campaign about students’ rights under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Any school receiving federal funds would be required to advertise these resources in a high-traffic physical location on campus and on its website, including a link to the webpage for submitting complaints.

Colleges and universities receiving federal funds also have to provide an annual report to the Department of Education’s inspector general on the number of complaints of discrimination based on race, color or national origin that they received and how the institutions addressed them. Institutions receiving the most complaints would be subject to audits.

The bill also raises the bar for the department to close or dismiss discrimination complaints — complaints resolved through other federal, state or local agencies or through a school’s internal processes would not be dismissed by the department.

It further mandates, for one year, monthly briefings and reports to Congress on the discrimination complaints the department has received, its plans for addressing them and the duration of investigations.

“All students deserve to learn and live on college campuses without fear of discrimination, harassment, or intimidation. Unfortunately, right now, Jewish students across the country are facing a drastic rise in antisemitism, leaving them feeling threatened, ostracized, and unwelcome on campuses,” Manning said in a statement. “I’m leading the bipartisan Protecting Students on Campus Act to help protect students from discrimination and ensure that colleges and universities do more to combat antisemitism and hate or be held accountable.”

Her co-sponsor likewise linked the legislation — which casts a broad net and does not specifically mention antisemitism or Jewish students — to campus antisemitism.

“The disturbing rise and spread of antisemitism on college campuses is unacceptable. College should be about growing into an adult and making life-long friends — not fearing for your life because of the religion you practice,” Chavez-DeRemer said in a statement. “Our bipartisan legislation will empower students facing discrimination by making it easier to report these civil rights violations. As a member of the Education and Workforce Committee, I’ll continue standing up against antisemitism on our campuses and fighting to protect Jewish students.”

The American Jewish Committee and Anti-Defamation League are supporting the bill.

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