A class-action lawsuit has been initiated against York University and the York Federation of Students, accusing them of repeated anti-Semitic incidents on campus. The suit, brought forth by Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, seeks $15 million in damages and aims to force meaningful reform in university policies.
The lawsuit is filed on behalf of a broad group that includes current students, recent alumni, and individuals who attended the university between 1998 and 2021. The plaintiffs allege that York University has been a place where they have felt unsafe, silenced, and forced to conceal their Jewish identities. Claims include incidents of harassment and even threats of physical violence against Jewish students.
The defendants are accused of negligence, particularly for their alleged failure to adequately respond to anti-Semitic incidents, a violation of York’s own non-discrimination policies. The suit also criticizes the university for insufficient staff training on how to handle harassment issues.
Sandra Zisckind, Managing Partner at Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, stated, “York University has not upheld its commitment to its own guidelines and policies, particularly those vital for ensuring student safety.” Zisckind further emphasized that the university, owning the campus space in question, is “legally obligated to demonstrate accountability.”
The lawsuit points out a persistent pattern of behavior dating back to at least 2009. It references specific incidents, such as one where Jewish students had to take shelter in the Hillel office to escape anti-Semitic protesters following a meeting on teacher assistant strikes.
Darryl Singer, head of class actions at Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, elaborated, “Any behavior that promotes hate, violence, discrimination, or disrupts the educational environment, as outlined in the ‘Code of Students Rights and Responsibilities,’ indicates a failure in the University’s duty of care and contradicts its foundational values of respect, equity, and civility.”
Individuals who believe they have also experienced anti-Semitism at York University are encouraged to join the class-action suit by contacting Diamond and Diamond Lawyers.
The lawsuit represents a significant legal challenge for York University and places a spotlight on what the plaintiffs claim is a longstanding issue that the institution has failed to adequately address. The plaintiffs are seeking immediate action to secure their safety and prevent future incidents.