Northwestern student files class action lawsuit claiming school failed to protect Jewish students

A Northwestern University student filed a class action lawsuit against the school on Monday, alleging that the leadership's inaction against antisemitic behavior created a hostile on-campus environment.

The complaint, filed by the law firm FeganScott on behalf of the student, alleged that the school failed to protect Jewish students from "severe and pervasive antisemitic harassment" on campus following the October 7, 2023, attack in Israel.

The complaint also detailed instances where the university and its leadership allegedly ignored policy violations by students, faculty and unaffiliated individuals, allowing disruptive and dangerous behavior to escalate without consequences.

"To go to class, these students had to face posters and banners containing antisemitic slogans and glorifying the October 7 terrorist attacks," the law firm said. "They were confronted by unauthorized demonstrations, making certain facilities or parts of campus inaccessible. And while they grew increasingly fearful for their safety, the university turned a blind eye."

The complaint also described a series of "empty" responses from university President Michael Schill to the rise of antisemitism on campus, which ultimately led to an unauthorized encampment on the university’s Deering Meadow, filled with antisemitic rhetoric.

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"For months, President Schill issued statements that addressed rising antisemitism across Northwestern, none of which had any impact at all on the harassment Jewish students were facing on campus," said Elizabeth Fegan, managing partner of FeganScott. "As the situation worsened and complaints flooded in, Northwestern, under the direction of President Schill, abandoned Jewish students who were desperate for help."

In addition to seeking damages for affected students resulting from Northwestern's alleged failure to establish a safe on-campus environment and holding those accountable for that failure, the lawsuit requested the appointment of a neutral monitor. 

The monitor would oversee compliance with Northwestern's anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies and ensure adherence to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

FOX 32 Chicago reached out to Northwestern University for a statement but has not yet heard back.