Graduate Compensated for “Inaccurate” Essay on Israel

By Vicki Belovsky

Leeds University(123rf)

A sociology graduate of Leeds University has received an undisclosed sum from the university, after an essay in which she did not blame Israel for the crimes of Hamas received a failing grade.

Danielle Greyman appealed the mark for her coursework in an internal process with the University and eventually was awarded a 2:1 degree. But the process took over a year, and as a consequence she was unable to take up the place she had been offered to study for a Master’s degree at the University of Glasgow. Assisted by the UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) Charitable Trust, she took the University to the small claims court, where the case was settled, without any admission of liability.

In a statement, Greyman said, “I am grateful for the support that UKLFI and the wider Jewish community has provided, and I hope this encourages other students to take action against institutions that do not uphold their responsibility of ensuring academic freedom and fair marking. That said, I am disappointed by the waste of resources that went into dealing with the issue.

“If the university had simply apologized at the outset, corrected the marking and offered antisemitism training to staff, I would have felt greatly satisfied.

Instead, they failed to confirm that I was entitled to the degree until it was too late, and made me wait six months before hearing my appeal, and then a further six months for the re-marking. This has been a long and draining process, but it is necessary that large institutions know that they will be held accountable.”

Dr David Hirsh, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths and Academic Director of the London Centre for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism, provided a report reviewing the marking of the coursework, in which he drew on his academic experience and said that the essay was “not a fail”.

A spokesperson for the University of Leeds said, “No finding of any wrongdoing on the part of the University has been made by the Court. Furthermore, the University does not consider or accept that there has been any wrongdoing. An internal review exonerated our staff of any alleged discrimination and the University remains fully supportive of the academic judgement of its academic staff.

“We strenuously deny the accusation of antisemitism, the definition of which we interpret to be in line with the working definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). 

“The University of Leeds has a zero tolerance approach to antisemitism, and any form of unlawful discrimination or hate crime, and on which we follow Government guidance.

“The listing of this claim in the small claims court was surprising and unexpected. As a consequence, and on the commercial direction of our insurers, an offer without any admission of liability was made by the University which was accepted by the claimant.

“This offer was made expressly on the basis that the University does not accept any liability nor accept that the claimant has suffered any loss.”

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