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Kaine cosponsors bill to get Office of Civil Rights more money

After an increase in reported incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia at universities across the nation, Senator Tim Kaine is vouching for a bill that could help get students a response in a more timely manner.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, between Oct. 1, 2023, and Feb. 15, 2024, the Office of Civil Rights received 219 complaints related to Islamophobia, antisemitism and anti-Arab discrimination. That’s more than a 1,000 percent increase compared to the year before. 

Kaine announced that he has cosponsored the Showing Up for Students Act, which will provide $280 million in additional funding for the DOE's Office of Civil Rights.

“No student should have to worry about whether they’ll be harassed or discriminated against," wrote Kaine in a statement. "Passing this legislation would provide the Office for Civil Rights with crucial resources to combat discrimination and ensure a safe learning environment for students.”

He says this funding will help the OCR show positive examples of how universities are handling the tension.

“We need to spread those best practices around and make sure that colleges are safe learning environments where you don’t have to hide your points of view. You can debate points of view on really challenging and tough issues. That’s what academic institutions are for but you can do it in a way where people feel respected and not discriminate,” said Kaine.

According to that same release, funding for OCR has not kept up with the increase in need for its services for years. Kaine says the Showing Up for Students Act will give the OCR the funding to maintain its responsibility to students by adding more staff and resources to respond in a timely manner.