update deskSchools & Higher Education

Group of Jewish students sues Cooper Union for uptick in antisemitism

The Lawfare Project has led the effort to hold the college accountable for its alleged failure to take action.

Cooper Union in New York City. Credit: Ajay Suresh via Wikimedia Commons.
Cooper Union in New York City. Credit: Ajay Suresh via Wikimedia Commons.

A group of 10 Jewish students have taken legal action against Cooper Union in New York City, claiming administrators have tolerated the proliferation of hate and intimidation against Jews, particularly after the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel on Oct. 7.

The Lawfare Project filed a lawsuit on Wednesday on behalf of the students, working with the firm Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP.

While the suit noted numerous incidents, an Oct. 25 demonstration took center stage. That protest featured students demanding the destruction of Israel, resulting in Jewish students locking themselves in the school library as anti-Israel activists pounded on the windows yelling racist slurs.

When police arrived on the scene, Cooper Union’s president Laura Sparks told them to stand down, leaving the Jewish students trapped.

Ziporah Reich, director of Litigation at the Lawfare Project, told JNS that this incident, “which captured global attention through television and social media, served as a stark illustration of the escalation of antisemitism on college campuses.”

Reich said the act of intimidation “vividly highlighted that, if left unchecked, antisemitic speech will rapidly turn into a direct threat to the safety of Jewish students.”

The Lawfare Project said the president’s actions failing to protect the students who found safety in the library “is but one of many examples in which the school has ignored the safety and security of its Jewish student community.”

The lawsuit seeks changes in the school’s policies and monetary damages for the students.

Brooke Goldstein, founder and executive director of the Lawfare Project, said Cooper Union had “failed to adequately protect not just our clients but other Jewish students on campus in the face of pro-Hamas hate.”

No one should experience such intimidation on campus, she added.

Reich noted that universities throughout North America have been “turning their backs on Jewish students” and that their agency “will do everything we can to fight for our clients as they courageously assert their rights under the law.”

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