Title VI

During this reform period of 2008, Title VI of the HEA was reviewed. Title VI provides federal funds to 129 international studies and foreign language centers at universities nationwide. The objective of this act is to ensure and encourage diverse perspectives in order to enhance national security. As such, Title VI supplies grants for international language studies, business and international education programs as well as international policy. Moreover, the recipients of these funds are required to engage in 'public outreach' for K-12, teachers, educators and the general public.

Over the past decade concerns have been raised over these title VI funded programs. Critics have emphasized that many of the international programs funded engage in biased, anti-American and anti-Israel rhetoric, with no offers of counterbalance.

Certainly, a 2006 review mandated by Congress found that the programs were not reaching their goals. Seeking to rectify this, Congress expressed the need for greater oversight by the Department of Education, as well as an investigation to ensure these programs reflected "diverse perspectives".

Despite these reforms, the issues within Title VI have been deemed endemic. Writing in The Hill, Louis D. Brandeis Center Founder Kenneth L. Marcus argued that "title VI doesn't need to be tweaked-it needs to be overhauled". This declaration followed a joint statement released by 10 groups on September 17, 2014, which the Brandeis Center coordinated.

This joint statement expressed the deep concerns over the misuse of tax payer money, arguing that "these outreach programs, which have no congressional oversight, often disseminate anti-American and anti-Israel falsehoods." Furthermore, the groups voiced the opinion that " too often exclude scholars with diverse perspectives while stifling discourse on critical issues. The biased learning environment that results suppresses the academic freedom of students and faculty with different views. At some institutions, students are afraid to disagree with their professors." This statement was accompanied by a white paper published by the Brandeis Center as well as a report by the AMCHA Initiative underscoring the negative effects this biased perspective produces on campuses, UCLA specifically. The AMCHA study found that "any time UCLA's center sponsored or co-sponsored an event mentioning Israel from Fall 2010 to Spring 2013, 93% of the time the mention was negative and critical - as if Israel is a blight on the planet."

UCLA's media relations office issued a statement saying that the university "remains dedicated to complying with all federal laws and respecting the free and open exchange of ideas representing diverse viewpoints."
In light of such issues, the joint statement calls for changes in the Title VI program which would 1) "require recipients of Title VI funds to establish grievance procedures to address complaints that programs are not reflecting diverse perspectives and a wide range of views" and 2) "require the U.S. Department of Education to establish a formal complaint-resolution process similar to that in use to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964."
Responding to this statement Amy W. Newhall, executive director of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), asserted that MESA "resolutely opposes all forms of hate speech and discrimination, including anti-Semitism," but "is concerned that some of the reports issued by partisan political groups based outside academia may actually weaken efforts to combat anti-Semitism by portraying all criticism of Israeli policies as a form of anti-Semitism or as 'anti-Israel.'"

However, as Kenneth L. Marcus asserts in a letter to the editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education the co-signatories of the joint statement " urge the opposite: accountability systems to ensure that these programs offer the diversity of perspectives that existing law requires." As said statement concludes: "Arguably, Title VI programs no longer serve a legitimate purpose... In 2011, Congress reduced Title VI funding nationwide by 40 percent, from $34 million to $18 million. Unless effective and necessary reforms can be enacted, Congress may have to consider reducing or eliminating Title VI funding from Middle East studies centers."

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