NYU and Department of Education reach settlement over anti-Semitism complaint

The university will revise its non-discrimination and anti-harassment policy.

New York University and the Department of Education have reached a settlement over a 2019 complaint alleging the university discriminates against Jewish students.

New York University has reached a settlement with the Department of Education over a complaint alleging that the university discriminated against Jewish students.

In the settlement, obtained by Jewish Insider, the Department of Education states that it was alleged that “the university discriminated against students of Jewish descent, on the basis of their national origin, by failing to respond appropriately to incidents that created a hostile environment for Jewish students at the university.”

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An incident included in the complaint, which allegedly occurred in December 2018, describes an NYU student tweeting that he wanted “all Zionists to die” which in turn led to the closure of the University's Bronfman Center for two days.

The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights reached a settlement with NYU in September. The university agreed to “revise its Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy to incldue a statement that the University prohibits discrimination on the bases of shared ancestry and ethnic characteristics, including anti-Semitism.”

The revised policy will also include a “description of the forms of anti-Semitism that can manifest in the University environment.”

NYU was given an October 15th deadline to provide the Department of Education with documentation “demonstrating that it adopted the revised policy and disseminated the policy to University students, faculty, and staff through its website, as well as other means the University deems effective to ensure that the information is widely disseminated.”  

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The settlement comes after President Donald Trump signed an executive order in December 2019 that called on government departments to adopt “the non-legally binding working definition of anti-Semitism adopted on May 6, 2016, by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).”

Adela Cojab, who filed a complaint with NYU, told Campus Reform that the settlement is a "first step." 

“I think the settlement is a great first step in fighting antisemitism on college campuses. I’m glad NYU chose to settle before the full investigation was launched— to me, it shows they recognize they can improve their policies and want to work to create a safe and welcoming environment for Jewish students," Cojab said.

“That said, the settlement isn’t perfect. While OCR and the Executive Order both operate in the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism, I am worried NYU will not use the full definition and exclude anti-Zionism. Much of the discrimination we faced, if not all, was propagated by anti-Zionists on campus. Instituting trainings and policies to combat anti-Semitism with an incomplete definition missed the mark and doesn’t address the issue,” she added.

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