Jewish Student Sues Columbia

A second-year Columbia student filed a proposed class action suit in the Southern District of New York on April 29, 2024.

The complaint alleges that Columbia University breached and continues to breach its policies and promises to provide its students with a safe learning environment. The student, who is referred to as C.S. in the complaint, brings the suit individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated against The Trustees of Columbia University.

Details of the Complaint

Although many students at Columbia University have been exercising their constitutionally protected rights to express their views on the Israel-Palestine conflict, the complaint alleges that “within these groups, there’s a subset of protesters who have gone well beyond simply engaging in free speech and who have different and menacing goals.” The students have gone beyond expressing dissent. They have and are continuing to “commit acts of violence, they are intimidating and harassing Jewish students and faculty members, they are inciting demonstrators to engage in hate speech and also commit acts of violence, which has been taking place, and they have even called for terrorist attacks against the United States and the State of Israel.” C.S. claims that these acts are intentional and have been taken to disrupt the normal functioning of Columbia.

The complaint refers to the April 18, 2024, encampment called the “Liberated Zone” established on the Columbia campus by demonstrators. The area contained 60 tents that actively blocked the other students from moving across the campus and attending classes. C.S. claims that the encampment’s occupants have engaged in the harassment of Jewish students who have been “punched, shoved, spat upon, blocked from attending classes and moving freely about campus.”

The complaint seeks a temporary restraining order requiring Columbia to provide safe passage for members of the proposed class around campus during the day and night. The student alleged that she already asked Columbia for such an escort, and her requests were turned down.

Apart from injunctive relief the student seeks class certification, damages, and reasonable attorney’s fees.

This lawsuit follows days after an earlier complaint that was submitted to the U.S. Department of Education. A group of Columbia students have alleged that the school has failed to keep Muslim, Palestinian, and students of Arab descent safe. The complaint alleges that these students have been a target of “anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and Islamophobic harassment on campus.”

Columbia has faced numerous legal actions since the October seventh attack. In February 2024, a Jewish graduate student filed a complaint alleging there had been an “explosion” of antisemitism on campus.

Columbia, as well as other campuses across the country, has seen numerous protests since the October seventh attack by Hamas on Israel and the subsequent military response by Israel in Gaza. In response to the rising tensions, Columbia has moved its classes online to “de-escalate” the situation.

Reach Out to Learn More About Pending Lawsuits

Although many pro-Palestine demonstrators have been peacefully protesting on the Columbia campus, the C.S. complaint alleges that some have used remarks such as “Death to the Jews” and “go back to Poland,” on their signs. The complaint concludes that the shift to remote learning deprived C.S. and other Columbia students of the education they were promised when they enrolled, which constitutes an additional breach of contract.

The case is currently before the Honorable Analisa Torres for an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order set to take place on May 21, 2024. Contact our firm to learn more about this and other lawsuits regarding these protests.

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