MLFA’s Civil Litigation attorneys filed a Title VI complaint with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights today on behalf of Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and allied Brown University students, who experienced harassment and discrimination based on their race, national origin, religion, and perceived status because of their pro-Palestinian advocacy.

Like several universities across the United States, Brown University failed to protect its Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students and their allies from discrimination and harassment after October 7, 2023. Israel’s subsequent war against Hamas in Gaza resulted in at least 40,000 deaths and the near-total destruction of the Gaza Strip.  Many students who felt compelled to speak out against the war and the popular disregard for Palestinian lives encountered an onslaught of abuse and harassment by peers, faculty, and visitors to campus, who accused them of antisemitism and supporting terrorism despite the fact that they said nothing against the Jewish faith, and in several instances had Jewish peers alongside them.  Public hostility to solidarity with Palestinians reached a deadly fervor when three Palestinian college students, including Brown University student Hisham Awartani, were shot in Vermont for nothing more than wearing keffiyehs while walking home.

While Brown administration officials released multiple statements condemning antisemitism in the wake of the October 7 attack and resulting war, Brown continues to ignore, and at times even encourages, the racist and Islamophobic discrimination and harassment leveled at its Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim students. Instead of offering support and protection to these students, Brown administration officials referred them for disciplinary action and sought their arrest, all while ignoring their complaints. By contrast, Brown officials intervened on behalf of non-Arab, Muslim and allied students who also protested, and asked law enforcement to drop any charges against those students who represent other interest groups.

Brown University must comply with its obligations under federal law to provide all students with equally safe school environments free from discrimination based on their race, national origin, shared ancestry or allied status. MLFA urges the Department of Education to promptly investigate Brown University’s deliberate failure to ensure the safety of Brown’s Palestinian, Arab, Muslim and allied students on Brown’s campus.