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Stanford Challenged on Intersection of Anti-Semitism and DEI

Two Jewish mental health counselors working at Stanford’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) division allege discrimination arising out of the division’s diversity, equity and inclusion program. The two employees filed charges of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and California’s state agency enforcing the laws against discrimination.

According to a statement released by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law, the two Jewish employees believe the manner in which the DEI is being carried out perpetrates a hostile work environment. The program used by CAPS was developed to help clinicians improve their treatment of students from diverse backgrounds. As part of the program, CAPS held weekly seminars. The two employees claim the program divided the staff into two race-based discussion groups: a “whiteness accountability” group and a separate group for people of color. They felt the Jewish staff was “pressured to attend the DEI program’s racially segregated ‘whiteness accountability’ affinity group.” They further allege the DEI committee supported a narrative connecting Jewish individuals to white supremacy, “advancing anti-Semitic tropes concerning Jewish power, conspiracy and control.” They feel this narrative denies the “uniqueness of Jewish ancestral identity.” 

These two employees also claim the DEI committee failed to respond to two incidents of anti-Semitic incidents that occurred on campus. In one incident, Zoombombers disrupted a virtual town hall with pictures of swastikas and the use of the N-word. In their CAPS seminar a few days later, the two employees claim the DEI seminar focused on the racist and anti-Black content, failing to consider the anti-Semitism at play in the swastikas. One of the employees claimed a committee member told him they decided to focus on anti-Black racism. When the employee pushed back, he said the members accused him of trying to derail the agenda’s focus on racism. When the female employee sought to share her outrage about the swastikas, she alleges they accused her of “possessing the privilege” individuals of color do not possess. The member purportedly pointed out that Jewish people can hide behind their “white identity.” The two individuals state that participants after the meeting told them that Jewish people have privilege and power, unlike other minority groups, and thus do not need the attention of the committee. The two employees object to the characterization as an anti-Semitic trope. Stanford stated it is investigating the matter and plans to initiate a campus-wide DEI initiative rather than the individual programs currently happening.