Federal judge ready to dismiss lawsuit alleging San Francisco State U encourages anti-Semitism


(JTA) — A federal judge said he plans to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former and current Jewish San Francisco State University students who allege that the university tolerates and encourages anti-Semitic activity.

Judge William Orrick of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco said at a hearing Wednesday that the lawsuit filed in June does not show an intent on the part of the university to discriminate against Jewish students. He gave the group a chance to refile the lawsuit to make it “lean and clear.”

Orrick told the group that the lawsuit must allege a specific intent to discriminate and to describe events that showed not only that Jewish students or Israeli speakers were harassed, but that university officials were responsible for the events and were motivated by religious bias, the San Francisco Gate reported.

The lawsuit, which names the university’s president, Leslie Wong, and other school officials as defendants, claims violations of the U.S. Civil Rights Act and the constitutional guarantees of free speech and equal treatment.

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“SFSU and its administrators have knowingly fostered this discrimination and hostile environment, which has been marked by violent threats to the safety of Jewish students on campus,” the lawsuit says.

The suit seeks monetary damages, as well as a court order to force the defendants to cease the behavior outlined there. It delineates several incidents, including an April 2016 speech on campus by Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat that was disrupted by pro-Palestinian protesters, making Jewish students feel unsafe.

An independent investigation of the Barkat incident initiated by the university determined that the school did not have the proper security protocol in place to handle a protest and Jewish students did not feel safe.

In a letter accompanying the university’s report of the incident, Wong said there was significant work to be done to improve the campus climate and safety for students.

The students are being represented pro-bono by the global law firm Winston & Strawn LLP and The Lawfare Project.

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