‘Acts of violence’: Student sues Columbia for ignoring its own policies

While not removing the anti-Israel tent encampment, the university has begun suspending protestors, it told its student body in an email.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A Jewish student filed a class-action lawsuit Monday against Columbia University for its failure to abide by its own policies and safeguard its students’ right to safety and equal access to education.

The student alleged that there is an “extreme element” among the anti-Israel protestors who have been roiling the campus for months who are “not just expressing dissent; they have and are continuing to commit acts of violence, they are intimidating and harassing Jewish students and faculty members, they are inciting demonstrators to engage in hate speech and also commit acts of violence, which has been taking place, and they have even called for terrorist attacks against the United States and the State of Israel.”

The sophomore specifically noted the violations of Columbia’s Code of Conduct at the tent protest that began 12 days ago.

“Since its formation, the encampment has been the center of round-the-clock harassment of Jewish students, who have been punched, shoved, spat upon, blocked from attending classes and moving freely about campus, and targeted by pro-terrorist hate speech,” the lawsuit said.

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Instead of removing the illegal encampment, the administration said that students who don’t feel safe on campus can learn remotely. This discriminates against the law-abiding, Jewish students, the lawsuit said.

They get “a second-class education where they are relegated to their homes to attend classes virtually, stripped of the opportunity to interact meaningfully with other students and faculty and sit for examinations with their peers.”

The student is demanding a court injunction to compel Columbia to enforce its policies, in addition to compensatory and punitive damages that will be determined at the trial.

Meanwhile, the university sent an email out to all students Monday night informing them that it has begun suspending those who would not leave the encampment, as it had threatened numerous times but not followed through.

This was part of the “next phase of our efforts to ensure safety on our campus,” the notice said.

The administration immediately weakened its stance by adding that those who now left and signed a form stating that they would abide by campus rules from then on would be able to complete the semester as normal.

It also provided an explainer on how to appeal their suspension.

The school has yet to allow the New York Police Department back into the campus as it did once, in order to arrest the students and outsiders who set up the encampment  in a show of support for Hamas that demanded that Columbia divest from the Jewish state.

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Taking the opposite tack than that of the New York Ivy League school, the University of Texas at Austin on Monday brought in local police to help it dismantle numerous tents of its own anti-Israel protestors following several warnings that it would not tolerate their violation of school guidelines.

While doing so, the school said in a statement, “Baseball size rocks were found strategically placed within the encampment.” This indication that the danger of physical violence on campus had been real was in line with “extensive online threats” the university said it had received from protest organizers on Saturday.

Several arrests were made during the police action.