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NYU settles federal lawsuit accusing admin of inaction on campus antisemitism

New York University students and pro-Israeli supporters rally across the street from where pro-Palestinian students and supporters rally outside the NYU Stern School of Business building, April 22, 2024, in New York. (Mary Altaffer/AP)
New York University students and pro-Israel demonstrators rally across the street from where pro-Palestinian students and supporters rally outside the NYU Stern School of Business building on April 22 in Manhattan. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
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New York University has settled a case brought by Jewish students who accused the school of not doing enough to combat antisemitism on campus, university officials and the plaintiff’s lawyers announced Tuesday.

The , filed in Manhattan federal court just over a month after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, alleged NYU violated students’ civil rights by showing “deliberate indifference” toward anti-Jew hatred while protecting the rights of other minority groups.

The complaint was later amended at the start of the spring semester, as pro-Palestinian protests increased in frequency and campus tensions spilled over during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

“We are committed to continuing our vigorous efforts to confront discrimination, including antisemitism, and the settlement in this litigation is yet another step in this direction,” NYU President Linda Mills said in a statement.

The agreement includes updates to the student code of conduct and mandatory trainings, plus a new coordinator to oversee university-wide compliance with anti-discrimination and harassment laws. NYU said it was among the first major universities in the country to create such a position.

People watch as founder of Within Our Lifetime Nerdeen Kiswani speaks during a rally in solidarity with Hesen Jabr in front of Tisch Hospital at NYU Langone Health on June 14, 2024 in New York City. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
People watch as founder of Within Our Lifetime Nerdeen Kiswani speaks during a rally in solidarity with Hesen Jabr in front of Tisch Hospital at NYU Langone Health on June 14. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

That staffer will be tasked with preparing an annual disciplinary data report for the NYU Board of Trustees, plus a one-time, historical analysis of the school’s disciplinary response to allegations of discrimination or harassment since 2018.

NYU spokesman John Beckman declined to say if the coordinator has been hired yet or when the person is expect to fill the role.

Meanwhile, NYU agreed to offer more and strengthen its existing relationship with Tel Aviv University. The move is likely to anger students who participated in campus encampments this spring to demand NYU divest from Israel and sever ties with the Israeli institution.

The settlement also includes a monetary component, though terms of the deal are confidential, university officials and their lawyers said.

The lawsuit accused NYU of fostering a hostile antisemitic educational environment that worsened with the Israel-Hamas war, subjecting Jewish students to verbal and physical harassment while the university ignored their fears.

During a silent vigil supporting Israel on Oct. 17, two NYU students — Bella Ingber and Sabrina Maslavi — alleged pro-Palestinian counter-protesters burned an Israeli flag, made “slit-your-throat” gestures at Jewish students and threatened one of Ingber’s friends with rape.

Hours later, a third plaintiff, Saul Tawil, was recording a fight between supporters of Israel and Palestine when a protester threatened him to delete it, saying “get the f–k out of here, you dirty f–king Jew,” according to the suit. Tawil accused campus safety of being slow or even unresponsive to his request for help.

After the lawsuit was filed, rather than take measures to address the issues it raised, NYU continued to let protesters intimidate Jewish students, according to a Jan. 31 amended complaint. The new allegations included additional plaintiffs who said they were told to “go back to the gas chambers” and “go back to Poland where you came from.”

Following the two complaints, pro-Palestinian protesters ratcheted up demonstrations on campus with repeat tent encampments supporting Gaza, as NYU cracked down on its response with police force.

In April, NYU called the cops to clear the university’s first encampment in Gould Plaza, arresting 120 protesters, including some who were pepper sprayed by police as they attempted to block NYPD paddy wagons. Students later returned to another spot on campus, which resulted in another round of over a dozen arrests.

Marc Kasowitz, whose law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres, LLP is representing the NYU plaintiffs as well as , urged colleges to fall in line.

“NYU, by entering into this historic settlement, is to be commended for taking a leading position among American universities in combating antisemitism on campus,” he said in a statement. “Other universities should promptly follow their lead.”

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