HAF asks Office of Civil Rights to investigate Univ. of Pennsylvania’s role in Hinduphobic conference

| SamvadaWorld Staff

The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has filed a ‘Title VI‘ complaint with the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights against the University of Pennsylvania for its part in co-sponsoring the Dismantling Global Hindutva (DGH) conference which took place September 10–12, 2021.

Writing to Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Suzanne Goldberg and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Enforcement Randolph Wills today, HAF has asked the Office of Civil Rights to investigate and determine whether the University of Pennsylvania and University of Pennsylvania’s Department of South Asia Studies, South Asia Center and associated faculty created a hostile environment for students and faculty of Indian and Hindu descent.

Under Title VI, programs and activities receiving any Federal financial assistance from the US Department of Education must operate in a non-discriminatory manner in regards to “race, color, or national origin.”

The complaint further urges the department to ascertain whether the same entities and individuals misused any federal funds by:

  • planning, sponsoring, hosting, and/or participating in a one sided conference about India and Hindus which promoted negative stereotypes, slurs, and distorted facts; and
  • developing and promoting a “harassment field manual” that promotes negative stereotypes, slurs, and distorted facts about Hindus, denies Hinduphobia and anti-Hindu hatred, and specifically targets Hindu students for censure and marginalization in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title VI of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008.

Despite thousands expressing concern over the conference, University of Pennsylvania did nothing to disassociate itself from the anti-Hindu rhetoric that the DGH event promoted, says HAF.

Following the complaint with the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, the HAF is seeking the following remedies from the University of Pennsylvania:

  • A public statement condemning the negative stereotypes, slurs, and distorted facts promoted at the conference as well as in the field manual;
  • An acknowledgement of the existence of Hinduphobia and anti-Hindu hatred, and expression of zero-tolerance of the same;
  • A public restatement of commitment to open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive engagement with diverging perspectives;
  • Mandatory training on rights and responsibilities under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and Higher Education Opportunity Act and greater oversight of the South Asia Center at Penn, and its use of federal assistance;
  • Sharing of support services for Indian and South Asian Hindu students and faculty facing hostility, harassment, or retaliation.

Full complaint can be read here

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