Education Dept. Investigates Claims of Discrimination Against Palestinian Students at Harvard

The U.S. Education Department said on Tuesday that it had opened an investigation into Harvard over whether it failed to protect Palestinian, Muslim and Arab students and their supporters from harassment, threats and intimidation.

Harvard has been in turmoil for months over its response to the attack on Israel and the ensuing war in Gaza, which played a part in the eventual departure of the school’s president, Claudine Gay. The Education Department has already opened a separate investigation into Harvard over complaints of antisemitism.

The Muslim Legal Fund of America, which filed a civil-rights complaint that led to the new investigation, said more than a dozen students had faced harassment. Students were “threatened or called terrorists,” sometimes by fellow students, for wearing keffiyehs, a Palestinian scarf, said Christina A. Jump, a lawyer for the group. Others were doxxed and intimidated, yet Harvard administrators dismissed the concerns, she said.

School administrators instead met with donors and alumni who “encouraged the harassment,” said Chelsea Glover, another lawyer on the case. The complaint, which lawyers for the group did not provide, does not name any donors or alumni, Ms. Jump said.

“Harvard’s primary responsibility should be to its current students, not wealthy donors and alumni with personal agendas that harm students who support Palestinian rights,” Ms. Glover said.

In a statement on Tuesday night, Harvard said that it supported the work of the Office for Civil Rights of the Education Department “to ensure students’ rights to access educational programs are safeguarded and will work with the office to address their questions.”

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