NYU Reaches ‘Confidential Settlement’ with Students in Anti-Semitism Case

New York University has reached a confidential financial settlement November lawsuit filed by three Jewish students who accused the university of indifference to anti-Semitic incidents on campus since the beginning of the war in the Gaza Strip, joint statement on both sides confirmed on Tuesday.

As part of the settlement, which was reached Monday morning, the university said it will “take groundbreaking measures” to address anti-Semitism and continue its “vigorous efforts to combat discrimination” on campus. The measures include creating a new Title VI coordinator position, “intended to be equivalent” to the duties of NYU’s current Title IX coordinator, who oversees gender discrimination on campus. The coordinator will oversee the university’s response to “discrimination and harassment based on all protected characteristics” and prepare reports on disciplinary data and responses to allegations of discrimination or harassment dating back to 2018.

“NYU deserves credit for taking a leadership position among American universities in combating anti-Semitism on campus by entering into this historic settlement,” Marc Kasowitz, one of the students’ attorneys, said in a statement. “Other universities should immediately follow suit.”

In a statement, NYU President Linda Mills called the settlement “another step” in the fight against discrimination on campus. Mills has faced significant backlash in recent months for her crackdown on pro-Palestinian and anti-war protests on campus, authorizing the New York Police Department to clear two encampments in Gould Square and beyond Paulson Center last semester, which led to the arrests of dozens of students, faculty and graduates.

New York University says it will allocate funds for Hebrew and Judaic studies and research on anti-Semitism — the center, which was launched in May — and strengthen its relations with Tel Aviv University. Since October, students have been demanding that the university close Tel Aviv research center among other unmet demands from student groups and faculty on campus.

Three professors applied for recognition as additional defendants in the lawsuit in April, concerned that the university’s definition of anti-Semitism detailed in the complaint — the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of the term — was too broad and threatened their First Amendment rights and academic freedom. An NYU spokesperson told WSN that the university had asked the court to dismiss the professors’ motion.

In a statement Tuesday, NYU said its commitment to addressing anti-Semitic incidents on campus is consistent with its existing nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies, which include the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. The definition includes “attacking the state of Israel, perceived as a Jewish collectivity” and “denying the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, such as by claiming that the existence of the state of Israel is a racist endeavor.” among other conditions.

In 2020, NYU and the U.S. Department of Education we reached an agreement where the university agreed to change how it handles discrimination “based on common ancestry or ethnic characteristics,” such as incidents of anti-Semitism. The agreement came after a student accused the university of failing to adequately respond to a series of incidents of discrimination against Jewish students in a civil rights complaint. The students, who filed the lawsuit in November, alleged that NYU failed to honor the terms of the agreement.

New York University filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in March, arguing that it had taken “decisive” action in response to anti-Semitism on campus and that the plaintiffs’ “overwhelming requests” for relief were legally invalid. The lawsuit, originally filed by three students, was updated earlier this year to include additional students and Students Against Anti-Semitism as plaintiffs. It also alleged additional violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination “on the basis of race, color, or national origin” in programs that receive federal funds.

Contact Yezen Saadah at (email protected).