February 5, 2018 — Open Hillel calls on Hillel International to withdraw its endorsement of Kenneth Marcus, Donald Trump’s nominee for Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Department of Education.
Students are particularly dismayed that Hillel has endorsed a nominee who supports Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s decision to roll back Title IX Civil Rights protections for campus victims of sexual harassment and assault.
“Title IX rights in schools are vital for protecting students from sexual harassment and assault.” said Liana Thomason, a junior at Bryn Mawr College and Open Hillel Organizer. “They force schools to report statistics on sexual assault and rape and be held accountable for the number of incidents that happen on their campus. Without the safety net of Title IX, not only will it be harder for survivors to come forward and receive justice, but it will also become nearly impossible to accurately diagnose the scope of the problem of sexual assault on campus and on high school campuses. Hillel’s decision undermines both survivors and the honest people working within the system to help them.”
Students are also troubled by Marcus’s demonstrated opposition or indifference to key anti-discrimination laws, including protections for immigrant students, students of color, students with disabilities, and female and LGBTQ students.
Moreover, students are disturbed by Marcus’s record of working to shut down conversations  about Israel/Palestine and suing universities and student activists for exercising their right to free speech.
Though claiming to speak on behalf of Jewish students, Hillel International failed to consult with students before endorsing Marcus.
“It is extremely disappointing that Hillel International is placing the political priorities of a few wealthy donors ahead of the safety and well-being of the students it purports to serve.” said Alec Collins, a sophomore at the University of Vermont and Hillel student board member.
Open Hillel has since partnered with Know Your IX and IfNotNow on a joint petition calling on Hillel to withdraw its endorsement. Read the full statement here.
Open Hillel is a national movement of students and community members working to promote inclusion, open discourse, and democratic accountability in the Jewish community on campus and beyond.