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Lawfare Project represents dismissed SUNY Downstate health-sciences university student

Pro bono Jewish legal organization’s client was discharged from university after reporting professor for alleged antisemitic comments in class.

The Lawfare Project logo
The Lawfare Project logo

 The Lawfare Project is representing a student who was recently dismissed from the Physician Assistant program at SUNY Downstate Medical School. The student alleges that her dismissal from the program was in retaliation for reporting antisemitic comments that were routinely made by one of her professors in the classroom.

The student enrolled in the SUNY Downstate Physician Assistant 27-month program starting in May of 2022. During her tenure in the program, she witnessed multiple instances of antisemitic comments by her professor. For example, the professor would say, “Let me walk over to Jerusalem,” when approaching Jewish students and would mockingly refer to religiously observant students wearing kippahs as “rabbis.” After an extensive absence due to being extremely ill, the student reported the disturbing comments to the administration.

Her complaints were summarily dismissed, and a campaign of discrimination and retaliation was launched against her. The student was treated with disdain and prejudice at every turn and was forced to take her make-up exam while on official medical leave in violation of the school’s policy. She was also saddled with unfair conditions, under which it would be nearly impossible for her or any student to perform successfully. In another instance, the student was without reason forced to carry out a mock physical exam of a patient under the watchful eye of a professor who she had filed a discrimination complaint against. All of this was done to stunt the student’s ability to succeed so that could be used as a pretext to discharge her from the program.

“When our client courageously reported her professor’s continuous antisemitic remarks in the classroom to the administration, the institution’s response was to stifle her voice by removing her from the program, rather than addressing the core issue of the discriminatory comments,” said Ziporah Reich, director of Litigation at The Lawfare Project. “Anything short of unequivocally putting an end to antisemitism in the classroom and reinstating our client into the program would be a grave injustice to her and the other Jewish students in the program.”

The student is working to appeal her dismissal with the assistance of LP, which continues to fight cases of antisemitism at universities both in the United States and Canada.

“What happened to this student is a reflection of the normalization of Jew-hatred within the university system. Administrators are unable to look beyond their own privilege and biases to consider the experience of a young minority student facing discrimination. Instead, they find it more convenient to silence the student than to address the issue and institute any systemic change,” said Brooke Goldstein, founder and executive director of The Lawfare Project. “We stand with our client and every Jewish student that faces any form of discrimination, bias and hatred leveled at them.”

For more information about The Lawfare Project, visit their website or contact James Lambert, vice president at Rubenstein Public Relations, at jlambert@rubnesteinpr.com (212-805-3024).

ABOUT THE LAWFARE PROJECT:

The Lawfare Project is the leading organization dedicated to protecting the civil and human rights of Jewish people worldwide through legal action.

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The Lawfare Project is a nonprofit legal think tank based in New York City that mobilizes public officials, media, jurists and legal experts to counter the international lawfare phenomenon: the abuse of the law as a weapon of war against Western democracy. Through its Legal Fund, the LP facilitates and finances offensive and defensive counter-lawfare actions regarding pressing issues that include, among others: fighting terror-front organizations operating in the United States and Canada; bigoted and unlawful international commercial discrimination based on ethnicity and national origin; and the perversion and misapplication of international and national human rights law against the United States and other democracies.
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