NYU settles suit brought by Jewish students who claimed discrimination in wake of Oct. 7


New York University has settled a discrimination lawsuit brought by three Jewish undergraduate students in the weeks after Oct. 7. 

As part of the settlement, the school will pay money to the plaintiffs and establish a new coordinator position focused on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to respond to allegations of antisemitism and other forms of discrimination and harassment prohibited at federally-funded institutions.

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’s President, Linda Mills, said in a joint statement with the plaintiffs.

The federal lawsuit was brought in November by undergraduate students Bella Ingber, Sabrina Maslavi and Saul Tawil, all juniors at the time of the filing. The lawsuit claimed the university violated several anti-discrimination laws by failing to protect its Jewish students from discrimination, including Title VI as well as New York City and state civil and human rights laws.

Ingber and Maslavi, leaders in the campus organization Students Supporting Israel, claimed that while their group was holding a silent vigil in solidarity with Israel in Washington Square Park in October, fellow students burned an Israeli flag, made throat-slitting gestures at Jewish students and yelled “Gas the Jews.”

Tawil claims he was called a “dirty” Jew at the same rally. The suit alleged discrimination against Jewish students, saying the university failed to discipline students who committed these and other antisemitic acts.

The exact terms of the settlement are confidential, but the joint statement shared that, in addition to establishing the Title VI coordinator position, the parties agreed to a monetary settlement. The school also committed to updating references to antisemitism in its student conduct code and including a discussion of antisemitism in the non-discrimination and anti-harassment training required for all students and staff. 

In the statement, the school said it will follow federal guidance and use the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism to determine if an action is antisemitic. According to the IHRA, antisemitism can often take the form of anti-Israel and anti-Zionist rhetoric.

The school also says it will dedicate academic resources to fighting antisemitism, including a focus on the study of antisemitism, bolstering Hebrew and Judaic studies and strengthening the university’s relationship with Tel Aviv University. NYU runs a study abroad program in Tel Aviv. 

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

Kasowitz’ firm has filed multiple discrimination lawsuits against elite universities, including Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard University. This is the first of the cases to reach a settlement agreement.

“We have tremendous admiration and respect for our clients who are the plaintiffs in these lawsuits. It shows a lot of bravery and a lot of commitment to stand up to hate,” Mark Ressler, a partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres who is also representing the NYU students, told the New York Jewish Week about the lawsuits earlier this year. “We’re looking forward to repaying the bravery of our clients with our tireless effort to vindicate their rights.”