U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights Announces New Civil Rights Guidance

The U.S. Department of Education released a Dear Colleagues letter on Nov. 7 that reminds colleges and universities of their legal obligation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to provide all students with a school free from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin, including shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics. USC’s Notice of Nondiscrimination Statement includes shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics in the list of protected characteristics.

The U.S. Department of Education also has created a shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics website that clarifies protections for students of any religion from discrimination or harassment based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics, or citizenship or residency in a country with a dominant religion or distinct religious identity. The site includes policy guidance and other resources on federal measures related to discrimination protections. 

Additionally, the university has created a central website resource, the Network of Informational and Support Resources in Times of Conflict to address common questions and concerns that have emerged in the wake of the recent international crisis in the Middle East. The university encourages its community members to report any type of concern to help maintain a positive and healthy campus culture. The site also includes information about expanded mental health services offered to the campus community.

The university also released a new freedom of expression website that provides additional reminders and guidance about civil discourse at the university.