At least four SDNY lawsuits have been filed against Columbia University relating to the recent campus protests, including a class action complaint filed April 29, accusing the University of breaching its contractual obligation to provide a safe learning environment, insofar as Columbia chose to respond to the protests by making classwork partially remote for the remainder of the school year:

Columbia has in no uncertain terms announced that the university is not safe for its Jewish students. But rather than clear the encampment, the administration decided to take the extraordinary step of shifting to a “hybrid” model of education for the remainder of the academic year, where students that don’t feel safe enough to attend class in person can view the class online. This absurd shift makes no attempt to solve the safety problem on campus, and at the same time, creates two very different educational experiences for Jewish and non-Jewish students. The vast majority of the student population, including these extreme demonstrators, get to attend classes in person, take tests in person, communicate with professors in person, and otherwise take advantage of the campus.

The Jewish students, on the other hand, get a second-class education where they are relegated to their homes to attend classes virtually, stripped of the opportunity to interact meaningfully with other students and faculty and sit for examinations with their peers. This policy shift is a clear admission that the campus is not simply experiencing a protest movement, which has happened to universities across the country for decades, but instead, has become a place that is too dangerous for Columbia’s Jewish students to receive the education they were promised.

The class action is before Judge Torres, who has scheduled a hearing on the plaintiff’s TRO application for tomorrow.

The other cases are:

  • A case, before Judge Broderick, on behalf of Jewish organizations and certain students alleging that “Columbia has abjectly failed to enforce its policies and discipline those responsible for turning Columbia’s campus into a severely hostile environment for its Jewish and Israeli students.”
  • A case, before Judge Garnett, on behalf of an individual Jewish student who alleges she was denied her request to attend classes remotely for her safety.
  • A case, before Judge Furman, on behalf of a Jewish student alleging that he was the victim of discrimination when the University suspended him for deploying a “fart spray” into the protest encasement.

Efforts by Columbia to have the cases marked related and consolidated before one judge have been denied, though pre-trial proceedings are being coordinated in the cases via Magistrate Judge Netburn — who was just recently nominated to be a District Judge.