Skip to content

Ranking Member Cassidy, Fetterman Introduce Legislation to Address Antisemitism, Discrimination on College Campuses

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and John Fetterman (D-PA) introduced the Protecting Students on Campus Act of 2024, legislation to empower students to file civil rights complaints if they experience violence or harassment on college campuses due to their heritage. This comes amid rising antisemitic incidents and attacks on college campuses in the aftermath of Hamas’ deadly attacks on Israel.   

Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Department of Education (ED) has a responsibility to ensure university programs or activities that receive federal funds do not discriminate against students. Complaints filed by students who face discrimination, or on their behalf, are handled by the ED’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR).   

During Cassidy’s bipartisan roundtable regarding antisemitism on college campuses, panelists discussed how Jewish students were not aware of their universities’ legal responsibilities under Title VI or their ability as students to file civil rights complaints if they experience discrimination. This legislation ensures colleges and universities that receive federal funding properly inform students about their right to file OCR discrimination complaints. It also provides accountability to ensure institutions and OCR properly investigate alleged discrimination and maintain a safe learning environment for all students.  

“No student should be harassed or attacked at school just because of who they are,” said Dr. Cassidy. “This legislation holds colleges and universities accountable and ensures discrimination against students is never ignored.” 

“Diversity is our strength as a country. No student should face hostility or violence for who they are, what they look like, where they’re from, or what they believe,” said Senator Fetterman. “Amid a despicable rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia in our country, I am proud to introduce this bill with my colleague Senator Cassidy to empower students facing discrimination to take action and hold universities accountable in protecting students.” 

Specifically, the legislation would: 

  • Empower students by improving awareness of how to report alleged civil rights violations.  
    • Require colleges and universities to post noticeable links and language on their main webpage on how to file a Title VI discrimination complaint, including accessible links to OCR’s complaint website.  
  • Ensure institutions that receive federal funding properly handle discrimination complaints. 
    • Require colleges and universities to report the number of civil rights complaints they receive and the actions they took to address the complaints. 
    • Require the ED Inspector General to audit institutions that report high ratios of discrimination complaints relative to their student population.
  • Require the Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights to brief Congress monthly on:
    • How many reports OCR is getting, broken down by type of discrimination;
    • What OCR’s plans are to work through those complaints; and
    • How long the complaints have been pending with OCR. 

Recently, Cassidy urged the Biden administration to use its enforcement power under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ensure colleges and universities uphold their responsibilities to maintain a safe learning environment for Jewish students. Additionally, Cassidy raised concerns with the administration over the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement on college campuses to economically harm Israel and threaten Israel’s right to exist as a nation.  

Cassidy also called on the Biden administration to address antisemitism toward Jewish children in K-12 schools. 

Click here for a one-pager on the legislation. 


For all news and updates from HELP Republicans, visit our website or Twitter at @GOPHELP.