Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Plaintiffs sue Northwestern for response to pro-Palestinian encampment

The+suit+criticizes+the+agreement+reached+by+administrators+and+encampment+organizers+on+Monday+which+allowed+demonstrations+on+Deering+Meadow+to+continue+through+June+1.
Jake Epstein/The Daily Northwestern
The suit criticizes the agreement reached by administrators and encampment organizers on Monday which allowed demonstrations on Deering Meadow to continue through June 1.

Three plaintiffs brought a breach of contract lawsuit against Northwestern Wednesday, citing a “dystopic cesspool of hate” present at the pro-Palestinian encampment on Deering Meadow.

The lawsuit — brought by two graduate students and one first-year undergraduate student at NU — alleges that NU breached a “modest core promise” to students when it opted to allow the encampment to continue throughout the weekend despite demonstration policies stating such encampments are prohibited.

“Northwestern’s refusal to enforce its own policies is thus a breach of contract, in addition to being a total embarrassment to the broader Northwestern community,” the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit, filed in the Cook County Circuit Court, alleges the University allowed the encampment to become “increasingly hostile to Jews” and that “the encampment featured open support for Hamas.” The plaintiffs seek class certification for Jewish students at NU who did not participate in the encampment.

It cited images of the pro-Palestinian encampment on Deering Meadow and an image of an individual wearing a hoodie that depicted Hamas spokesperson Abu Obaida, alleging the individual “barked at passersby demanding they state whether they speak Hebrew.”

It also included photos of signs at the encampment, one depicting a Star of David with a red slash through it and another showing University President Michael Schill donning devil horns, an antisemitic trope that harkens back to medieval-era “blood libel” accusations against Jewish people.

The lawsuit quoted a video message released by Schill Tuesday evening in which he addressed the incidents of antisemitism, noting that the issue is “personal” to him.

“Rather than enforce its express and implied promises to Plaintiffs that Northwestern is a place of civility where free expression is governed by transparent, content-neutral codes of conduct, Northwestern twisted itself into a pretzel to accommodate the hostile and discriminatory encampment, legislate around it, and ultimately reward it,” the lawsuit reads.

In addition, the suit criticizes the agreement reached by administrators and encampment organizers on Monday which allowed demonstrations to continue on Deering Meadow through June 1 under University policies. 

The University promised additional support for Muslim, Middle Eastern North African and Palestinian students and faculty in the agreement — in addition to more transparency about its investments — in exchange for the removal of all but one of the tents on the lawn and the removal of non-NU-affiliated individuals.

“By negotiating with and capitulating to the demonstrators, Northwestern explicitly acknowledged its own breaches, and actively invited future lawless activities by rewarding them,” the plaintiffs wrote in the lawsuit. “In other words, Northwestern’s entire course of action has all but guaranteed that these types of ‘encampments’ continue until all ‘demands’ are met.”

The University did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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