A Jewish law student is suing his university for retaliating against him after he raised concerns about antisemitism on campus.
Yoel Ackerman, a first-year law student at Rutgers University, claims he wrongly faced negative repercussions after he reported a pro-Hamas video being circulated by classmates to law school administrators, according to Reuters.
The video, titled “3 lies about Palestine,” was created by law students referred to in suit as J.A. and M.A. The video was shared on several social media sites and in the law school’s Student Bar Association (SBA) group chat, which included Ackerman.
The video denies claims of babies being beheaded, women being raped and the slaughter of 250 civilians by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attack, acts of terrorism that have been documented in the media.
“False, there is no evidence of this whatsoever,” the video states. “So why are they lying? It’s called ATROCITY PROPOGANDA. They lie about atrocities in order to incite emotions, hatred and violence. WHY? Because they are the ones planning to commit atrocities themselves.”
Ackerman’s lawyer, David Mazie, says the video’s content violated the university’s SBA Constitution which pledges “to actively condemn all forms of such discrimination” based on race, ethnicity, religion, accent or national origin.
Additionally, the lawsuit says the video violated Rutgers’ Code of Student Conduct, which forbids bullying, intimidation, harassment, defamation, disruption and disorderly conduct.
Ackerman says he was subjected to bullying and harassment after his public objection to the video. He felt so unsafe that he requested to continue his classes solely online – but his request was denied.
Instead of condemning the video, the Rutgers administrators “falsely accused” Ackerman of “doxing 1Ls [first year students] at the law school” – simply for sending screenshots of the video to the Jewish Law Student Association.
“At no time did Plaintiff Ackerman access or disseminate the private identity or information of law students J.A. or M.A; rather, he merely shared information that J.A. and M.A. chose to publicly share to members of the Rutgers community,” Mazie argued.
Ackerman was originally scheduled to attend a university hearing on Jan. 4. He was facing possible expulsion or other “serious punishment” for three charges brought upon him by Defendant Katherine Perez, assistant dean in the law school.
“In sum, Rutgers plans to hold this ‘kangaroo court’ in which they refuse to permit Ackerman to be represented by counsel (who cannot speak or otherwise advocate on Mr. Ackerman’s behalf), and have failed to advise him of the witnesses who will testify against him, and which ostensibly will be presided over by the very person who initiated and brought the charges against him, Defendant Perez,” the lawsuit states.
Since the lawsuit was filed on Jan. 2, the hearing was adjourned without a new date, according to Reuters.
Ackerman is asking for compensatory damages, punitive and exemplary damages, interest, cost of suit, attorney fees and other such relief the court deems as fit.