New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Jewish students sue NYU over alleged indifference to on-campus antisemitism

The lawsuit called for the university to suspend or expel students and terminate faculty involved in “antisemitic abuse” on campus, and accused the administration of ignoring reports of antisemitic incidents.
Krish Dev
(Graphic by Krish Dev)

Three Jewish students filed a lawsuit against NYU on Tuesday, claiming that the university has been indifferent toward instances of antisemitism on campus and violated federal civil rights laws, as well as its own Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy and conduct policies. NYU has denied the allegations, and said it has taken steps to fight antisemitism on campus. 

The students, who are seeking damages from the university, are calling for NYU to be ordered to terminate employees and suspend or expel students “responsible for the antisemitic abuse permeating the school.” In the complaint, the students said they regularly encounter chants such as “Hitler was right” and “gas the Jews,” and also accused President Linda Mills and other administrators of ignoring and dismissing on-campus reports of antisemitism.

“The age-old virus of antisemitism is alive and well at New York University,” the students’ complaint reads. “This case arises from NYU’s egregious civil rights violations that have created a hostile educational environment in which plaintiffs and other Jewish NYU students have been subjected to pervasive acts of hatred, discrimination, harassment and intimidation.”

The lawsuit comes amid heightened tensions on campus following the Israel-Hamas war, which began after an Oct. 7 attack on Israeli towns by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The violent assault killed about 1,200 people, and over 200 were taken hostage into the Gaza Strip. In its response to the attack, the Israeli military has launched airstrikes and a subsequent ground invasion of the region, in which more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

The Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life has said its received hundreds of reports of antisemitism since the start of the conflict, and there have also been reports of students facing employment discrimination and being identified online due to pro-Palestinian speech. Last week, a pro-Israeli student and her guest were allegedly assaulted outside Bobst Library by another student, following a pro-Israeli sit-in inside the building.

Mark Ressler, a lawyer representing the students and a partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres, said the firm plans to file similar lawsuits at other universities across the country, including Columbia University, Cornell University, Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley, according to Courthouse News Service. 

“The assertions in this suit do not accurately describe conditions on our campus or the many steps NYU has been taking to fight antisemitism and keep the campus safe,” university spokesperson John Beckman told the New York Daily News. “NYU looks forward to setting the record straight, to challenging this lawsuit’s one-sided narrative, to making clear the many efforts NYU has made to combat antisemitism and provide a safe environment for Jewish students and non-Jewish students, and to prevailing in court.”

The students also claimed that antisemitism has been a growing problem at NYU for years. The lawsuit notes a 2020 settlement agreement between NYU and the U.S. Department of Education where the university agreed to change how it addresses discrimination “based on shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics,” such as incidents of antisemitism. The agreement came after a student accused the university of failing to properly respond to incidents of discrimination against Jewish students in a civil rights complaint. The students claimed that NYU has not honored the terms of the agreement.

A few days ago, The Brandeis Center — a Jewish legal rights nonprofit — filed civil rights complaints against the University of Pennsylvania and Wellesley College alleging that both schools have failed to protect Jewish people on their campuses. The complaints argue that the universities have violated a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that bans discrimination in activities and programs receiving government funding.

Over the past few weeks, NYU has increased the presence of Campus Safety officers at its Washington Square and Brooklyn campuses due to safety concerns over incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia. The university has been criticized for its response to the Israel-Hamas war, with some students accusing it of neglecting its Palestinian community and others calling for it to directly address on-campus incidents of antisemitism.

Contact Carmo Moniz at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Carmo Moniz
Carmo Moniz, Managing Editor
Carmo Moniz is a junior studying journalism and politics. She enjoys covering city news and dabbling in data journalism, and aspires to one day join the journalism-to-law-school pipeline. When she's not in classes or at the Washington Square News, you can find her looking for a movie to watch or embarking on random art projects. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @carmo_moniz or send tips at [email protected].
Krish Dev
Krish Dev, Multimedia Editor
Krish is a first-year planning to major in Computer Science and Linguistics at CAS. In his free time, he enjoys posting photos on @krish_dev.creations, obsessing over geography, watching new films with friends, taking public transport to new places and letting Arsenal make or break his week.

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