Arab anti-discrimination groups file civil rights complaint against Rutgers alleging ‘pattern of bigotry’

Two Arab anti-discrimination groups on Tuesday lodged a federal civil rights complaint against Rutgers University, claiming a “pattern of bigotry” against Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims, especially since October.

The move comes as campuses nationwide, including Columbia and NYU in New York City, explode with protests against Israel’s continued bombing of the Gaza Strip in the wake of the attacks by Hamas last fall. More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in unremitting air and ground assaults since the war began.

The complaint, filed under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by the New Jersey chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), accuses Rutgers of “ongoing, patterned anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim bigotry.”

The 57-page complaint cites alleged instances of doxxing and other harassment that were met with little or unsatisfactory response by the university’s administration in a “practice of direct and indirect discrimination” in which Rutgers exhibited “deliberate indifference to a hostile learning environment on its campuses for students who hold, are perceived to hold, or are affiliated or associated with Palestinian identity.”

As a result, “Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims have become de facto second-class students on their own campuses,” the complaint claims.

Jewish students, too, have expressed fears for their well-being. On Monday, New Brunswick campus chancellor Francine Conway condemned antisemitism and the “unsettling rise in the number of bias reports” since the start of the year.

Also on Monday, a 24-year-old not affiliated with the university was arrested and charged with a hate crime for breaking into and vandalizing the Center for Islamic Life on the Rutgers campus on April 10. While not referencing that incident, the ADC-NJ CAIR complaint requested a number of remediation measures, including a statement “affirming the rights of student groups and students to openly advocate for the lives and liberation of Palestinians,” a new anti-doxxing task force, and an Arab Cultural Center “to support, uplift and protect Arab-American students.”

Rutgers did not comment on the complaint itself but did emphasize a commitment to student safety.

“We abhor all forms of intolerance based on religion, national origin, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or political views,” spokeswoman Dory Devlin told the Daily News via email. “The university takes seriously every claim of bias, intolerance, and hate.”