10 Students Sue Cooper Union for Handling of Antisemitism

By Hamodia Staff

Cooper Union (Google maps)

Ten Jewish students are suing Cooper Union college, alleging that its administration did not do enough to address antisemitism on campus following the Oct. 7 massacre, culminating in an incident where Jewish students say they had to be locked inside a library under guard while anti-Israel demonstrators attempted to break in.

The students are being represented by the Lawfare Project, a legal firm which has undertaken many similar cases of campus antisemitism in recent months, together with Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday.

“On October 25, 2023, an anti-Israel demonstration — which began with calls for the annihilation of Israel and its people — ended with Jewish students locked in the school library as a mob of demonstrators shouted antisemitic slogans while pounding on the glass walls and trying to force the doors open,” read a statement released by the Lawfare Project. “NYPD officers were called to the scene, but the President of Cooper Union directed them to stand down, leaving the frightened students trapped inside,” the statement continued.

To assess the incident, Hamodia, at the time, interviewed NYPD spokesperson Sgt. Carlos Nieves and more than a half-dozen Cooper Union students and parents, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity as they said they fear for their and their children’s safety. Cooper Union, for its part, provided a timeline of the day’s events as well.

The protest was planned to be held outside the school’s buildings, and it began that way, but protestors proceeded to enter the building, forcing their way past school security, police and the school said.

The protestors approached the office area of the school president, Laura Sparks. “They’re yelling and screaming, banging, political statements,” Nieves said. “At no time was people’s lives threatened; they didn’t threaten about, you know, destruction of property, things like that. The president locked the door to her office … and she chose to allow this demonstration to continue. She remained in her office while the students remained outside. The president says that she did not feel threatened. She did not feel scared. She chose to allow the demonstration to continue.”

Sparks was led out of a back exit, which Lawfare’s attorney Gerard Felitti described as “being funneled out through a tunnel.” Cooper Union says Sparks “was in the building until after the protesting students dispersed.”

“The President’s failure to intervene on behalf of the students is but one of many examples in which the school has ignored the safety and security of its Jewish student community,” the statement from the Lawfare Project said.

Subsequently, the protestors made their way to the school’s library, where Jewish students were studying. The school says that the doors were never locked, but the students say that they were, when demonstrators banged on the windows while shouting pro-Palestinian slogans. Some of these students called their parents. Others called 911. They said they felt threatened and scared.

“Cooper Union has failed to adequately protect not just our clients but other Jewish students on campus in the face of pro-Hamas hate,” Brooke Goldstein, founder and Executive Director of The Lawfare Project said in a statement. “No student should be subjected to intimidation, fear, or hatred when pursuing an education.”

The Lawfare Project has represented students in lawsuits against Carnegie Mellon and Columbia universities.

This lawsuit seeks significant institutional policy changes and monetary compensation for the plaintiffs.

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