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Education Department opens probe over alleged antisemitism at Northwestern University

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CHICAGO (CBS) – The U.S. Department of Education opened an investigation on Tuesday into Northwestern University over a complaint that the school violated Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act.

Title VI protects people from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. A Northwestern spokesperson said the Education Department notified the school about the investigation. He said Northwestern would respond to the department and cooperate with the investigation.

The Daily Northwestern, the school's student newspaper, reported that the investigation stemmed from a complaint filed by Zachary Marschall, the editor-in-chief of Campus Reform. The publication describes itself as "a conservative watchdog to the nation's higher education system" that "exposes liberal bias and abuse on the nation's college campuses."

"Northwestern is committed to providing a safe, welcoming environment for everyone in our community," said Jon Yates, a Northwestern spokesperson, in a statement. "Northwestern does not tolerate antisemitism or discriminatory acts directed at any individual based upon their race, religion, national origin or other protected categories."

The department's Office of Civil Rights is investigating dozens of other universities, including the University of Illinois Chicago, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, and Yale University, since just late last year.

The complaint comes as concerns over incidents of antisemitism, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim rhetoric and acts have grown significantly since the deadly Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants on Israel sparked a brutal war in the Gaza Strip. The Hamas-run health ministry says more than 25,400 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its offensive in retaliation for the attack.

Colleges and universities have served as particularly tense flashpoints after leaders at some of the nation's top schools received backlash to their response over alleged antisemitism and Islamophobia.

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