Lawsuit Filed Against UC Davis for Handling of Anti-Israel Encampment

A pro-Palestinian protester sits among tents at an encampment on the University of California Davis quad earlier this month. (Paul Kitagaki Jr./The Sacramento Bee/TNS)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (The Sacramento Bee/TNS) — A Davis resident is suing the University of California, Davis, and its top administrators for the school’s handling of the ongoing anti-Israel encampment on campus.

Jonathan Groveman, a pro-Israel member of the Davis Oct. 7 Coalition and a counterprotester to the encampment since it began May 6, has filed a lawsuit alleging UC Davis is supporting the encampment that has violated his First and 14th Amendment rights, as well as his ability to use a path through a busy part of campus.

“Allowing extremists to seize control of the center of the UC Davis campus has turned a premier university into a place that excludes Jews and the disabled from a place they call home,” Groveman’s attorney, David Rosenberg-Wohl, said. “Rather than showing leadership to preserve a place of debate and learning, the administrators of UC Davis have shown appalling disdain for everyone but the loud and angry few and have abandoned their responsibility to the community at large.”

The suit names Chancellor Gary May and other school officials, as well as UC President Michael Drake, who oversees the 10-campus system.

“Defendants have selectively chosen not to enforce the official policies of UC Davis and the University of California generally … all designed to make the UC Davis campus a place for the robust and respectful free expression of ideas instead of holding it hostage to, and effectively adopting, only one extremist view,” alleges the suit, which seeks the court to break up the camp and unspecified damages.

A UC Davis spokesperson said Monday that the university was “committed to a safe and peaceful campus environment that respects our community’s right to free expression while maintaining our educational and research mission without disruption.”

“When the university receives a complaint of denial of reasonable accommodation, antisemitism or other offensive behavior, it immediately reaches out to the affected parties to provide support and resources, and reviews the allegations under the university’s anti-discrimination policy,” the school said.

In the suit, Groveman says he is a veteran who regularly goes to campus and is required to avoid walking on soft surfaces because of ongoing knee and back injuries, in addition to Meniere’s disease, a condition that has given him spells of vertigo. The encampment, which Groveman says is preventing outsiders from using a cement path through the university’s Memorial Quad, is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Groveman admitted to confronting the encampment multiple times, including at 5 a.m. May 10 with a megaphone in what he called “an early rise to start their day.”

Groveman said he and other members of the October 7 Coalition started counterprotesting after hearing of Jewish students getting followed home by people whom they said they did not recognize from campus. Groveman’s lawsuit states that he believes a “significant number” of the individuals at the encampment are not UC Davis students or faculty.

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