update deskSchools & Higher Education

Jewish students start lawsuits to battle campus antisemitism, hate crimes

The attorney representing the group said the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks “poured a lot of fuel on an already raging fire.”

An overlook of Cornell University campus from the Uris Library. Credit: Lewis Liu/Shutterstock.
An overlook of Cornell University campus from the Uris Library. Credit: Lewis Liu/Shutterstock.

Following a series of anti-Israel protests on campus—some which have turned violent—and a lack of adequate responses by university administrations, Jewish students are now turning to the U.S. legal system.

“There has been an explosion of antisemitism on college campuses around the country and we had been looking at this issue prior to the massacre on Oct. 7,” said Mark Ressler, the Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP lawyer leading the effort. “We’re going to show that the universities had notice of acts of hatred and bigotry towards Jewish students, that there was pervasive anti-Jewish bigotry on campus, and that administrators and university bureaucrats acted with deliberate indifference.”

Lawsuits focus on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes discrimination by race illegal for institutions receiving federal dollars.

Schools the law firm plans to sue in the coming weeks and months include Harvard University, Cornell University, New York University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University.

Harvard recently announced an advisory board to help develop strategies for combating antisemitism, hate speech and even hate crimes on campus. Cornell experienced antisemitic threats targeting the Jewish student center and its kosher dining hall, with the student alleged to have committed the crime arrested on Tuesday.

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