Columbia Student Sues School After Demonstration Fallout

( — On January 19, student groups held a pro-Palestinian protest at Columbia University. During the protest, which some have called antisemitic and pro-Hamas, there was an incident in which protestors were allegedly sprayed with a foul-smelling substance by two unknown men. There were some who believed they knew the identity of one of them and claimed it was the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Subsequently, a Jewish Hispanic immigrant who holds dual citizenship with the U.S. and Israel and who is a former member of the Israeli military was suspended.

However, the student is now suing Columbia University under the pseudonym “John Doe” as he says the university’s biased investigation and selective enforcement of their policies led to his being wrongfully suspended. He is not denying his part in the spraying incident at the January protest, but claims that he was using a “novelty, non-toxic ‘fart’ spray” and that it was a harmless expression of free speech. He also says that the University ignored his requests for help when he received anti-Semitic death threats. The complaint further accuses the University of ignoring antisemitic incidents at the school for decades and accuses the current staff of failing to protect Jewish students in the wake of the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.

While the protestors who were at the January 19 rally say they suffered from headaches and nausea from what they apparently believed was a biochemical weapon, few sought medical help. They also declined the university’s offers of counseling, medical evaluations, and psychological services, although they did file official reports with campus public safety. The lawsuit alleges that some students at Columbia University have targeted the plaintiff for doxxing, creating fake FBI wanted posters with his face and name and calling him “armed and dangerous,” which has created a hostile environment on campus for him.

Further, the lawsuit alleges that the university has committed a breach of contract and violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They are also accused of violating New York Executive Law, New York Civil Rights Law, and the New York City Administrative Code. New York Republican Representative Elise Stefanik, who also serves as the House GOP Conference Chair, is one of many who have accused Columbia University of fostering an antisemitic environment on their campus by failing to enforce their own policies and by not making any public statements condemning public antisemitic rhetoric by students. The lawsuit by the unnamed student is seeking unspecified damages.

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