Campus Reform | Stanford staffers' complaint states the university's DEI series casts Jews as supporters of White supremacy

Stanford staffers' complaint states the university's DEI series casts Jews as supporters of White supremacy

The staffer members' lawyers at the Louis D. Brandeis Center have filed a complaint with the Department of Education.

Weekly anti-racism seminars at Stanford University have failed to address anti-Semitic acts, the complaint argues.

Two Jewish Stanford University mental health counselors are filing a complaint with the Department of Education after the school’s diversity programming portrayed Jews as contributing to systemic racism.

Attorneys from the Louis D. Brandeis Center — which exists to protect the rights of the Jewish people — are representing Ronald Albucher and Sheila Levin.

According to the complaint, the school’s “Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion” committee hosts “weekly seminars and racially segregated affinity groups.” A program offered by the Counseling & Psychological Services office “has maligned and marginalized Jews, by castigating them as powerful and privileged perpetrators who contribute to systemic racism.”

“The DEI committee has advanced anti-Semitic tropes concerning Jewish power, conspiracy, and control and endorsed the narrative that Jews support white supremacy,” read the complaint. “The DEI program has excluded anti-Semitism from the program’s agenda, silencing and intimidating Jews who have spoken up to challenge the program’s failure to discuss incidents of Jew-hatred at Stanford.”

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“This is especially concerning because the DEI program trains clinicians who provide mental health counseling to Stanford’s student body,” it continued. 

The statement of facts explains that in January 2020, staff were told to read "White Fragility," by Robin DiAngelo. During discussion time, the office created a “structured space for white staff” to “process reaction to 'White Fragility'.” As there was no group specifically for Jews, the two counselors were “expected to join the white affinity group” and “pressured to accept the anti-Semitic stereotypes promoted by the DEI program, namely, that Jews are rich, white and powerful.”

At one particular May 2020 virtual meeting, staff including Albucher and Levin discussed a racist Zoom bombing that had occurred days earlier. Although “DEI committee members addressed the racist and anti-Black content,” they did not mention “anti-Semitism or the anti-Semitic images of swastikas that were displayed during the zoombombing [sic] attack.” When Albucher attempted to express concern about the committee’s choice to ignore anti-Semitism, he was reportedly accused of “trying to derail the agenda’s focus on anti-Black racism.”

In January 2021, Levin was “subjected to a hostile environment” after she attended an event that explained “how Jews are connected to white supremacy.”

In March, the two psychologists filed a complaint with the United States Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights.

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“As counselors, we strongly support diversity, equity and inclusion and are mortified that Stanford University has permitted the DEI program to be perverted so that it accomplishes precisely the opposite of its intended aims,” wrote Albucher and Levin in their complaint. “The very program that is supposed to facilitate the full inclusion of all members of the Stanford community is now undermining that goal, perpetrating the very invidious discrimination that it is meant to eliminate.”

A Stanford University spokesperson told Campus Reform that “Stanford is deeply committed to nurturing a diverse and inclusive work environment, one free from harassment and discrimination of any kind.”

“We take complaints of this nature very seriously,” added the statement. “We followed our process and have an ongoing investigation into this matter. Stanford forcefully rejects anti-Semitism in all its forms.”

Denise Katz-Prober, Brandeis Center's director of legal initiatives, told Campus Reform that "Stanford has yet to acknowledge that anti-Jewish hostility is endemic in the [Counseling & Psychological Services] CAPS DEI program and that the program has to be fixed because it betrayed its purported mission by excluding anti-Semitism from its agenda and discriminating against Jewish staff."

"The Brandeis Center and our clients want Stanford to take the concrete steps we have outlined in our complaint to fix and professionalize the CAPS DEI program so that it stops promoting anti-Jewish narratives, trains its clinicians to recognize and understand anti-Semitism in all its forms, and ensures that the DEI program is a welcoming and safe place for all staff to share their lived experiences," Katz-Prober further explained to Campus Reform.

Alyza D. Lewin — President of the Brandeis Center — noted in the group’s press release that “According to CAPS’ leadership, the DEI program is designed to ‘help all staff develop[] the skills and confidence to engage with students from different backgrounds.’ However, when the DEI program ignores anti-Semitic incidents on the Stanford campus and spreads the anti-Semitic canard that Jews have ‘immense power and privilege,’ it teaches Stanford’s mental health professionals to disregard the mental health consequences of anti-Semitic incidents.”

“This undermines the therapists’ ability to provide appropriate care to Stanford’s Jewish students,” added Lewin.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft