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A Message on the U.S. Department of Education’s Investigation of Drexel

December 20, 2023

Dear Drexel Students and Colleagues,

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) notified me that it was opening an investigation into the University’s response to reported harassment of students on the basis of national origin (shared Jewish ancestry) under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Title VI prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.

OCR’s investigation relates to the University’s response to the arson of a door of a suite at Race Street Residence Hall on October 10, 2023, which I addressed in my October 11 message to the Drexel community.

Drexel University expressly prohibits harassment, discrimination, retaliation and bias incidents in any form, including those based upon race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, status as a veteran, socioeconomic status, and/or any legally protected characteristic, such as creed, marital status, and citizenship status. Our robust policies and procedures, which include the Discrimination, Harassment and Bias Incident Prevention Policy, are overseen by our centralized Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusive Culture (EIC). EIC manages the University’s response to reports of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation involving community members (students, faculty, and professional staff) at all its locations, and we encourage all students, faculty, and professional staff to report incidents of concern to EIC.

This investigation is one of more than 20 investigations recently opened by OCR related to discrimination based on shared ancestry on college campuses. OCR is a neutral fact-finder, and opening the investigation does not imply that OCR has made any determination on the merits of the complaint. As a University that does not tolerate acts of bias, discrimination, or harassment against any member of our community, we understand OCR’s prioritization of complaints related to national origin. We will work cooperatively to resolve the OCR investigation in a manner that both maintains compliance with Title VI and best serves our students, faculty, and professional staff. 

The tragedy in Israel and Gaza has brought about so much anguish and trauma throughout our community. Please be assured that we remain fully committed to maintaining a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all members of our community.

As we approach the end of this challenging year, I wish for all of you a happy and restful winter break.


John Fry