Queen’s one of three universities named in class-action lawsuit addressing antisemitism

Photo via Queen’s University.

Queen’s University is one of three Canadian universities that have been hit with a class-action lawsuit addressing antisemitic events which took place on campus in the past.

Diamond and Diamond Lawyers will represent both present Jewish students at each university — Queen’s University, Toronto Metropolitan University, and The University of British Columbia — and alumni spanning back to 1998. Each lawsuit is seeking damages totalling $15 million.

According to a release from Diamond and Diamond, the defendants are alleged to have shown negligence, specifically in failing to address antisemitic incidents, violating the institution’s non-discrimination policies and providing insufficient staff training on handling harassment.

“Despite numerous notifications from the Plaintiffs about anti-Semitic occurrences, the University consistently fails to take substantial action, often merely offering superficial statements without meaningful resolution,” stated Sandra Zisckind, Managing Partner at Diamond and Diamond Lawyers. “Owning the campus space in question, they are obligated to demonstrate accountability.”

In the release, the Plaintiffs highlight a consistent pattern of behaviour referencing past incidents on campus. In November 2022, antisemitic graffiti, including a swastika on a fridge in a residence where a Jewish student resided, was discovered on and off the Queen’s University campus. In 2015, Jewish students at TMU reported antisemitic graffiti in a washroom urging Jews and their allies to “burn in hell.”

Kingstonist has reported on other antisemitic instances at Queen’s University, including Racist and antisemitic graffiti found on Queen’s and St Lawrence College campuses, Zoom hackers posting ‘hateful, sexist, racist and antisemitic’ images during a Queen’s lecture, and, more recently, an alleged incident of antisemitism at a recent student house party.

Graffiti found at Summerhill April 2019. Photo by Solomon Segal.

“Given these University’s clear policies on the use and control of its spaces and its acknowledged responsibility over faculty, staff, and student organizations, the institution holds vicarious liability for any actions or behaviours occurring on its premises that contravene its values and standards,” said Darryl Singer, head of class actions at Diamond and Diamond Lawyers. “This lawsuit is not driven by monetary objectives, but rather to ensure such incidents do not recur.”

Kingstonist reached out to Queen’s University, and, in response, they provided the following statement:

“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. We are committed to fostering a safe environment for all at the university and we will continue to support our students, faculty, and staff. We encourage those impacted by recent events – especially those from Jewish, Israeli, Palestinian and Muslim communities – to reach out to access available supports, whether that’s counselling, academic advising, spiritual care, cultural support, or human rights advocacy. We also continue to take seriously and investigate all reports and incidents involving vandalism, acts of religious intolerance, or hate, and will if appropriate, refer cases to the police for further investigation.” 

Diamond and Diamond Lawyers is urging anyone who believes they have encountered antisemitism and fits the proposed class criteria, to contact their firm at 1-800-567-HURT.

The full Statement of Claim against Queen’s University filed by Diamond and Diamond can be read below. Kingstonist has reached out to the law firm for further details on the alleged incidents of antisemitism at the Kingston university. Some of those details are included in the Statement of Claim. This article will be updated if/when more information becomes available.

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