AG Rokita warns universities they could lose funding over antisemitism on campuses


By Alexa Shrake, Indiana Lawyer

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita sent letters to multiple state universities Monday as a warning that those schools are required to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by combating all forms of antisemitism on their campuses or they could lose federal funding.

Letters were sent to the trustee boards at Indiana University, Purdue University, Ball State University, Indiana State University, IUPUI, University of Southern Indiana, Ivy Tech Community College and Vincennes University.

In a press release announcing the warning, it included the letter sent to Ball State University.

The letter cites the Office of the Attorney General as receiving reports that individuals and various student groups on Ball State’s campus have provoked antisemitic activity against Jewish and Israeli students.

Students at universities across Indiana and the country have protested the war in Gaza.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit on behalf of protesters against IU for issuing no-trespass orders and arresting them.

Pro-Palestinian protesters set up an encampment to support Gaza, but were met with hostility from police, the Indiana Daily Student reported.

Similar protests occurred at Purdue University. The Purdue Exponent reported that the university’s administration told the pro-Palestine protesters to vacate.

The university’s Senate was supposed to meet in a special session Tuesday to discuss the administration’s response to the protests, but it didn’t happen.

The letter noted that an educational institution can enforce “reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on campus” but that students’ First Amendment rights are protected when protesting during what is allowed by the institution.

It further notes that students who protest while “breaking the law, university codes of conduct, or any other campus regulations are not protected.”

“Protecting our Jewish students requires accountability on the university’s part. I strongly encourage them to enforce university codes of conduct and the law when necessary to put an end to antisemitism and the promotion of terrorism on your campuses,” Rokita said in a news release. “That way we can ensure that all students, including our Jewish brothers and sisters, are safe and have an equal access to education.”

Spokespersons at Purdue University and Ball State University declined to comment on the matter.

Democratic candidate for Attorney General Destiny Wells said Indiana can do more to strengthen its laws on hate crimes.

She noted the Anti-Defamation League’s citing of Indiana as one of the few states that does not have hate crime laws.

On the ADL’s hate crime map, Indiana is one of four states that does not have statutes with penalty enhancements for bias-motivated criminal activity.

“I stand strong and united with Hoosiers in condemning all hate,” Wells said. “Indiana can and must do more to protect each and every Hoosier from acts of hate and that’s why I’m calling on the Indiana Legislature to revisit their Hate Crimes Law (SEA 198-2019) that failed to remove Indiana from the comprehensive list of states without hate crime laws.”

Indiana Lawyer has reached out to the other universities that received letters from Rokita, as well as Democratic candidate for attorney general Beth White, for comment.