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N.Y. pols demand probe of Brooklyn College discrimination charges

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NEW YORK (JTA) — Twenty elected officials are demanding an investigation into allegations that female Jewish faculty and other academics suffered discrimination at Brooklyn College.

The officials sent a letter Tuesday to the chancellor of the City University of New York alleging that Brooklyn College’s provost, William Tramontano, engaged in discrimination regarding faculty hiring and promotion. Brooklyn College is part of the CUNY system.

The letter said that “numerous accusations have been voiced regarding Provost Tramontano’s racial, anti-female and blatantly illegal actions" and that "we demand an immediate and thorough investigation by an independent group into these actions.”

The signatories to the letter are members of the New York state Assembly, state Senate and City Council.

Signatory and Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a Brooklyn Democrat, had sent a separate letter to CUNY’s chancellor, Matthew Goldstein, on Monday alleging discrimination against Jews in hiring and promotions, particularly Orthodox women. Hikind, an Orthodox Jew, alleged that Tramontano had spoken dismissively about Orthodox Jewish staff members and job candidates.

Brooklyn College spokesman Jeremy Thompson disputed the accusations against the provost.

"To suggest that anti-Semitism is pervasive on campus is untrue, and to suggest that Provost Tramontano is working against the hiring and promotion of Jews is absolutely untrue," Thompson said.

While the elected officials’ letters did not cite by name any of the alleged victims of discrimination, an article in the New York Post on Tuesday named several Jewish academics who it said had been recommended by the school’s business department for jobs or promotions but had been rejected by the administration.

“Jews are having a problem with this provost," said Hershy Friedman, the business department’s deputy chairman, according to the Post. "He’s making it harder and harder to bring in Jews. He doesn’t want Jews.”

The Post reported that the business department’s chairman, Robert Bell, said that when Tramontano was asked about one candidate for a professorship, the provost responded, “You already have a Miriam.”

Thompson said that decisions “were decided based on rational, appropriate points, entirely on merit.” He said the Post cited some cases in which the provost was not even involved.

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