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Jan 09, 2014 05:16 PM EST

Lehigh University To Be Probed For Response To Race-Related Incident

The U.S. Department of Education launched an investigation into allegations that Lehigh University mishandled race-related incidents on campus, The Express-Times reported.

The federal agency's Office of Civil Rights said Thursday that it is going to move forward with an investigation of a complaint filed in November about the vandalism of a residence hall dedicated to embracing multiculturalism. The complaint said the university failed to report the incident as a hate crime.  

"OCR will investigate the complaint allegation that Lehigh University permitted a racially hostile environment to exist on its campus by failing to provide appropriate responses to incidents of harassment based on race and color, of which the university had notice," the federal agency said in a statement.

The complainant, Susan Magaziner, a 1977 Lehigh University alumna, submitted the complaint after a Nov. 6 incident on campus where the Umoja House was egged and spray painted with racial slurs, The Express-Times reported.

The vandalism reportedly happened after the formation of a school organization, From Beneath the Rug, in response to an off-campus fight a involving a Lehigh University football player; the fight was allegedly parked by racial comments, The Express-Times reported.

The vandalism followed the formation on campus of FBR, or From Beneath the Rug, in response to an off-campus fight

The university released a statement saying that although Magaziner's complaint is ""without merit," it will cooperate fully with the agency while it investigates a "despicable act of racist spray painting and egging of a residence on our campus."

"Lehigh has long had a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion on our campus and within our community, but has since accelerated our efforts on a number of fronts," the statement says. "We are encouraged by the engagement of Lehigh students, faculty and staff in these efforts."

During the probe, investigators will "collect and analyze relevant evidence from the complainant, the recipient, and other sources as appropriate," The Express-Times reported citing the federal agency.

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