NY lawmakers propose conditioning federal funding on monitoring of antisemitism

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Two New York lawmakers are proposing legislation that could condition federal funding for universities to stricter monitoring of on-campus antisemitism.

Reps. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) and Mike Lawler (R-N.Y.) plan to introduce the College Oversight and Legal Updates Mandating Bias Investigations and Accountability (COLUMBIA) Act, in the wake of pro-Palestinian encampments, protests and arrests on college campuses nationwide.

The bill would allow the Department of Education to create a third-party monitor for antisemitic activity on college campuses that receive federal funding. The legislation was first reported by Jewish Insider.

Torres said in a statement announcing the bill that college antisemitism since Hamas invaded Israel on Oct. 7 has been “at an all-time high” and “American universities are not capable of handling it when left to their own devices.”

Torres said there are “blatant violation[s] of Jewish students’ civil rights” happening at schools across the country and the federal government “cannot allow this to continue unchecked.”

Protests at Manhattan’s Columbia University have been underway for over a week. More than 100 protesters have been arrested for setting up encampments with dozens of tents. The school later moved all of its classes to a hybrid learning style for the remainder of the semester.

Students at many other schools across the country have begun protesting and creating encampments like Columbia’s. Torres said Columbia’s protest won’t be “an isolated incident” and is instead the “straw that has broken the camel’s back” and he is “prepared to do something about it.”

He urged his colleagues in the House to join him, saying Jewish students feel unsafe as a result of their religious and ethnic identity, which is a “blatant violation of Title VI.”

“Jewish students have told my office that they feel completely abandoned by their university administrations and they view Congress as the only avenue for accountability and safety,” his statement said.

In the release, Lawler said he is proud to work with Torres on the legislation.

“If colleges will not step up to protect their students, Congress must act,” Lawler’s statement said.

Lawler and other House Republicans from New York this week called on the president of Columbia University to resign.

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