New York college cleared in bias case

Barnard College in New York City was cleared of charges that a professor discriminated against an Orthodox Jewish student by steering her away from a class.

The Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights on Jan. 11 notified Barnard that it had halted its investigation into a complaint that Professor Rachel McDermott, then the chair of the college’s Asian and Middle Eastern culture department, had discouraged a Barnard freshman in January 2011 from taking a class with Columbia professor Joseph Massad, a critic of Israel who also has been accused of being anti-Semitic. Barnard is affiliated with Columbia.

The Office of Civil Rights said it decided to halt the probe due to conflicting accounts of what occurred during the meeting between McDermott and the student, and because no other Jewish students have come forward to say that they also were steered away from the course. — jta