A group of Jewish students has filed a federal lawsuit against Harvard University, claiming the institution has become a “bastion of rampant anti-Jewish hatred and harassment.”
The suit filed Wednesday alleges that Harvard has permitted, and in some cases even fostered, an environment of antisemitism that has become “particularly severe and pervasive” following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. This has purportedly led to the harassment of Jewish students and disruptions of campus activities, including anti-Israel demonstrations. The plaintiffs argue that this constitutes a severe double standard in the university’s handling of discrimination and harassment issues, with Jewish students not receiving the same level of protection as their non-Jewish peers.
“Mobs of pro-Hamas students and faculty have marched by the hundreds through Harvard’s campus, shouting vile antisemitic slogans and calling for death to Jews and Israel,” the lawsuit states. “Those mobs have occupied buildings, classrooms, libraries, student lounges, plazas, and study halls, often for days or weeks at a time, promoting violence against Jews.”
Filed on behalf of Alexander Kestenbaum, a second-year graduate student at the Harvard Divinity School and president of the school’s Jewish Student Association, and five other unnamed plaintiffs. The complaint seeks monetary damages and a range of injunctive reliefs. These include disciplinary actions against faculty and students responsible for or permitting antisemitic behavior, the rejection and return of donations linked to the promotion of antisemitism, and mandatory antisemitism training for the Harvard community.
The lawsuit comes amid broader scrutiny of the university’s response to anti-Jewish discrimination. In December, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce opened a formal investigation into Harvard, along with the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, regarding their responses to increasing antisemitism on their campuses. Claudine Gay, Harvard’s former president, faced significant backlash for her testimony before Congress last month, along with allegations of plagiarism, leading to the recent announcement of her resignation from the university.