Jewish students and alumni sue Queen’s University for failing to address antisemitism

$15 million for failing to deal with antisemitism on campus

Image by: Herbert Wang

This article contains mentions of antisemitism and may be disturbing for readers. The Canadian Mental Health Association Crisis Line can be reached at 1-800-875-6213. The Peer Support Centre offers drop-in services and empathetic peer-based support and is open in-person and online and can be accessed here. Incidents of anti-Jewish hate crimes may be reported here.

Queen’s has been slapped with a multi-million dollar class action-lawsuit.

A statement of claim filed to the Ontario Superior Court asks for $15 million in damages and alleges Queen’s University fails to provide a safe campus environment to Jewish students and alumni. The class-action suit has yet to be approved by the Ontario Superior Court.

According to the statement of claim obtained by The Journal, there’s a well-documented history of antisemitic incidents on the Queen’s University campus.

READ MORE: Facing anti-Semitism on campus

The class-action lawsuit is being filed on behalf of all Jewish students currently enrolled at Queen’s University, and all Jewish alumni dating back to 1998. If the case is approved, students who don’t want to be a part of the class-action can opt-out by signing a form.

The case was brought against the University by Diamond and Diamond Law Firm.

“It’s time [the University] listen to Jewish students,” Darryl Singer, head of class action at Diamond and Diamond Lawyers, said in an interview with The Journal.

“I think the University administration needs to actually have the balls to stand up and look at the reality and listen to what Jewish students are saying.”

The two representing plaintiffs of the case, due to fear for their safety and retribution in their personal and professional lives, will remain anonymous in the suit. “Jane Doe #1” is a current Queen’s student, and “John Doe #1” graduated from Queen’s University.

The plaintiffs list a number of psychological injuries resulting from discriminatory incidences they experienced, including nightmares and fear of identifying themselves as Jewish.

The lawsuit claims $10 million in damages and an additional $5 million in aggravated damages. The lawsuit requests Queen’s create a grievance system for reporting incidences of antisemitism and implement clear guidelines for addressing antisemitism on campus.

READ MORE: Vigil for Israel shows unity of Jewish community

Following the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, dozens of Queen’s students reached out to Singer, concerned over antisemitic incidents on campus and the University’s inaction. After doing some digging, Singer believes he has a winning case.

“I’m very confident in this case,” Singer said. “This out and out Jewish hate, is being propagated on University campuses, and is being allowed by the administration of these universities to go on in violation of their own policies.”

The lawsuit alleges the university breached its duty of care to class members and violated sections seven and 15 of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, by failing to provide to take substantial actions to address antisemitic incidents.

The statement of claim lists 13 specific instances of antisemitism at Queen’s University, including statements made by student organizations, and actions taken in the classroom and on campus.

Allegedly, a Queen’s professor referenced the Auschwitz concentration camp in the context of PokemonGo, while another professor allegedly pressured Jewish students to attend pro-Palestinian rallies.

The statement of claim also referenced the mezuzah removed from a doorway in Leggett Hall on Oct. 22, and a swastika drawn in a residence common space
last year.

READ MORE: Antisemitic incidents occur on and off Queen’s campus

An opinion piece published in The Journal on Oct. 17 was cited in the statement of claim as endorsing violence against Jewish and Israeli people by arguing that the events of Oct. 7 were a provoked and a response to Palestinians’ prolonged suffering. Queen’s didn’t respond to the article or sanction the student author according to the statement of claim.

Queen’s University stated they have been clear there’s no room for violence or hate of any kind on campus. The University said they’re committed to fostering a safe environment for all at the university.

“Given this matter is subject to legal action, we cannot comment on the specifics. But we have been clear that there is no room for violence or hate of any kind at Queen’s,” the University said in a statement to The Journal.

The legal action alleges Queen’s failed to condemn students who support statements issued by student organizations blaming Israel for Hamas’ actions.

Singer told The Journal if the University meets the needs of Jewish students to make campus safer for them, they will drop the lawsuit. He isn’t optimistic the University will come to the negotiating table.

READ MORE: Antisemitic vandalism occurs in Albert Street Residence

If the case is successful, the settlement money will be donated to organizations committed to education on the Jewish people and Israel.

“A big part of the problem with the anti-Israel contention is that University administrations don’t really understand the history of Israel and Palestine. They don’t know the reality of what’s going on there,” Singer said.

Singer encouraged any Jewish student at Queen’s who has faced or is currently facing antisemitism on campus to reach out to him.

Students are encouraged by the University reach out to access the support systems available for them through counselling, academic advising, or human rights advocacy.


Antisemitism, lawsuit, University

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Comments (2)

  • Not sure Diamond & Diamond is the most reputable organization, I hope these students aren’t getting taken on a ride by a young lawyer looking for publicity.

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