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

NYU moves to dismiss antisemitism lawsuit brought by Jewish students

The university called for the lawsuit, which accuses it of indifference toward antisemitic incidents on campus, to be dismissed earlier this month.
Krish Dev
NYU filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit from four Jewish students in a Manhattan federal court on March 18. (Graphic by Krish Dev)

NYU is looking to dismiss a November lawsuit filed by three Jewish students that accuses the university of indifference toward antisemitism and of violating federal civil rights laws. NYU argued that it has moved “decisively” to eliminate antisemitism on campus and that the plaintiffs’ “sweeping requests” for relief are legally invalid in court documents earlier this month.

“The plaintiff’s complaint disregards NYU’s longstanding efforts to reject antisemitism and all forms of discrimination and should be dismissed,” university spokesperson John Beckman said in a statement to WSN. “The university continues to move decisively to hold accountable those who violate our rules, to foster respectful discourse and to maintain an academic community where students can peacefully and safely pursue their studies.”

In the Nov. 14 lawsuit, the students claimed that NYU violated Title VI — a federal law prohibiting racial and ethnic discrimination — and the university’s Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment and conduct policies by ignoring and dismissing on-campus reports of antisemitism. The plaintiffs, who argued that antisemitism has been a growing concern at NYU for years, also called on the university to terminate employees and suspend or expel students “responsible for the antisemitic abuse permeating the school.” 

The students filed an amended version of the original lawsuit in January that included two new NYU students and an organization called Students Against Antisemitism, but also lost one of the original student plaintiffs. 

In its motion to dismiss, NYU argues it did not violate federal civil rights law because the university did not fail to respond to antisemitic behavior. NYU said that its response to antisemitism on campus was “robust, steadfast and ongoing,” and that the students’ claims are “unripe.” The university also argued that Students Against Antisemitism does not have “standing” as a plaintiff, alleging the organization was created “solely for the purpose of litigation.”

Beckman referred to a chart in the motion displaying weekly bias response line reports, which shows a “steep decline” in complaints about hateful incidents, including antisemitism, since the introduction of NYU’s 10 Point Plan, a list of safety and conduct guidelines aimed at increasing on-campus security. The university also cited recent suspensions of professors as an example of attempts to address antisemitism on campus. 

A graph labeled “Weekly B.R.L. Reports” with a blue line.
A graph on page 17 of the motion filed on March 18. (Courtesy of John Beckman)

The university also indicated that incident reports on campus had decreased significantly since October in a recent “Safety and Wellbeing” update. In the update, NYU said that while it had received hundreds of reports of students taking down or damaging posters of Israeli hostages around campus — events noted in the students’ lawsuit — it found that most of them “were related to the same few underlying incidents.” The update also included that the university had reviewed 70 more cases of misconduct “related to current concerns” since its last update in November.

Marc Kasowitz — a lawyer representing the students — claimed that despite the university’s motion, “egregious antisemitism tolerated and enabled by NYU has only gotten much worse.”

“Jewish students are entitled to the same civil rights protections as anyone else,” Kasowitz said in a statement to WSN. “It is perfectly clear that NYU cannot be relied on to ensure they are protected.”

The students are also accusing NYU of failing to apply the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, which includes “the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.” The university adopted the definition as part of its Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment and conduct policies multiple years ago.

In the suit, the students also accuse CAS professor Andrew Ross of “egregious acts of antisemitism” for speaking at the Walkout for Solidarity with Palestine, establishing NYU’s chapter of Faculty for Justice in Palestine and endorsing “BDS since the 1990s.” Ross is attempting to enter the lawsuit as a third-party defendant and is arguing that the students’ requests could limit his personal and academic freedoms. 

The university announced in November that it would establish the Center for the Study of Antisemitism, which will focus on research of ancient and modern forms of antisemitism. In the motion, NYU cited the center as one of the ways it is addressing antisemitism on campus. 

“The university has already seen a sharp decline in complaints of antisemitism, a trend that should only continue as its reforms take firmer root,” the motion reads. “While the university cannot ‘purg[e]’ all the pain and anxiety stemming from current events, protests on city streets and social media increasingly filled with hate, it has and will respond to the needs of its community, far beyond the legal floor of ‘deliberate indifference.’”

Contact Aashna Miharia at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Aashna Miharia
Aashna Miharia, Deputy News Editor
Aashna Miharia is a first-year studying journalism and public policy with a minor in business studies. She’s from the Boston area and a novelist, coffee enthusiast and lover of independent bookstores. You can usually find her listening to an audiobook while wandering around New York City or on Instagram @aashnamiharia.
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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