Jewish Student Files Lawsuit Against Columbia Over Campus Safety Concerns

A Jewish student at Columbia University filed a class action lawsuit against the institution on Monday, alleging the university failed to provide a safe environment amid escalating tensions over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

The student, identified as C.S., is also seeking an emergency injunction to force Columbia to enforce its codes of conduct and ensure secure access to education without harassment or discrimination. 

The lawsuit acknowledges the importance of free speech on campus but argues that “genuine debate becomes impossible” when events turn violent and hostile. It cites recent incidents where a “sliver” or a sub-group of protesters crossed the line from protected speech into intimidation, harassment, and incitement of violence against Jewish students and faculty.

A central issue is the “Liberated Zone” protest encampment established on April 18th, with over 60 tents erected. The lawsuit claims Jewish students have been physically assaulted, blocked from attending classes, and targeted with hate speech like “Death to the Jews” and “We support Hamas’ rockets” within this zone. Despite university orders to dismantle it, the encampment persisted and allegedly became a hub for ongoing anti-Semitic harassment.

The plaintiff argues Columbia has failed to curb this extreme behavior, even after President Minouche Shafik initially took a “firm stance” threatening police removal before appearing to “negotiate” with protesters instead. The university’s subsequent shift to a hybrid learning model for safety reasons has effectively “segregated” Jewish students into a “second-class” virtual education, according to the suit.

The student claims her own education suffered when she could not safely access a building to submit part of a final exam project due to the encampment’s presence. She has filed the lawsuit to hold Columbia accountable for failing its duty to maintain a safe learning environment, seeking injunctive relief, damages, and legal fees.

Columbia University declined to comment on the pending litigation. However, the administration has now begun suspending protesting students who defied the deadline to vacate the encampment, barring them from campus housing, buildings, the semester’s completion, and graduation.

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