NYU reaches ‘confidential settlement’ with students in antisemitism suit

A purple N.Y.U. flag hangs on a building.

NYU reached a confidential monetary settlement in a November lawsuit filed by three Jewish students that accused the university of being indifferent toward antisemitic incidents on campus since the start of the war in Gaza, a joint statement from the two parties confirmed Tuesday. 

As part of the settlement, which was reached Monday morning, the university said it will “take groundbreaking measures” to address antisemitism and continue its “vigorous efforts to confront discrimination” on campus. The measures include the creation of a new Title VI coordinator position “meant to parallel” the responsibilities of NYU’s existing Title IX coordinator, who oversees sex and gender discrimination on campus. The coordinator will oversee university responses to “discrimination and harassment based on all protected traits” and prepare reports on disciplinary data and responses to allegations of discrimination or harassment since 2018. 

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

In the statement, NYU president Linda Mills called the settlement “yet another step” to confronting discrimination on campus. Mills has faced significant backlash in recent months for her crackdown on pro-Palestinian protests and anti-war demonstrations on campus, having authorized the New York City Police Department to sweep two encampments in Gould Plaza and outside the Paulson Center this past semester, which led to the arrests of dozens of students, faculty and alumni.

NYU said it will allocate resources to Hebrew and Judaic studies and the study of antisemitism — a center for which launched in May — and strengthen its relationship with Tel Aviv University. Since October, students have called for the university to shut down its study away site in Tel Aviv among other unfulfilled demands by student and faculty groups on campus. 

Three professors sought recognition as additional defendants in the lawsuit in April, concerned that the university’s definition of antisemitism detailed in the complaint — the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of the term — is overly broad and threatened their First Amendment rights and academic freedom. An NYU spokesperson had told WSN that the university requested that the court deny the professors’ request. 

In the Tuesday statement, NYU said its commitment to address antisemitic incidents on campus is consistent with its existing Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment policies, which include the IHRA definition of antisemitism. The definition includes “the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity” and “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor,” among other conditions.

In 2020, NYU and the U.S. Department of Education reached a settlement where the university agreed to change how it addresses discrimination “based on shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics,” such as incidents of antisemitism. The agreement came after a student accused the university of failing to properly respond to a string of incidents of discrimination against Jewish students in a civil rights complaint. The students who filed the November lawsuit claimed that NYU had not honored the terms of the agreement.

NYU moved to dismiss the lawsuit in March, arguing that it has moved “decisively” to respond to on-campus antisemitism and that the plaintiffs’ “sweeping requests” for relief are legally invalid. The lawsuit, which was initially filed by three students, was updated earlier this year to include additional students and the organization Students Against Antisemitism as plaintiffs. It also included additional violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination “on the basis of race, color, and national origin” in programs receiving federal funding.

Contact Yezen Saadah at ysaadah@nyunews.com.

This story NYU reaches ‘confidential settlement’ with students in antisemitism suit appeared first on Washington Square News.

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