Jewish student accuses Kutztown University of ignoring savage anti-Semitism

A former Pennsylvania student said in a lawsuit that she had dropped out before the start of her junior year for a series of hateful and threatening anti-Semitic incidents that the school had not dealt with properly.

Cassidy Pyser, who is Jewish and enrolled at Kutztown University in 2015, alleges that her roommate in the public school of nearly 9,000 students about 70 miles northwest of Philadelphia sent her photos of Adolf Hitler , a hooded Klansman, and a reference to the Jews burned during the Holocaust. When things intensified, the roommate would have broken Pyser’s mezuzah, a Jewish religious symbol made up of a decorative case containing Hebrew verses from the Torah.

“This racist crap must stop,” Pyser replied, according to screenshots of text messages included in a modified federal complaint filed last week. “The Jewish joke you sent me the other day really shocked me.”

Pyser has moved, but the former roommate worked in the dining room – amid lush greenery and red brick buildings – and allegedly refused to serve her, according to the suit, which was first reported by The Morning Call. The suit was part of a trend towards an increase in allegations of anti-Semitic activity and violence in the northeastern United States in recent months, including other incidents on university campuses.

When Pyser reported the bullying and the alleged threats to his residence manager and campus police, university officials did nothing to stop it, says his lawsuit.

Pyser has filed a civil rights lawsuit against the University of Kutztown, Aramark Food and Support Service Group, Inc., several employees of Aramark and the university, and campus security officials who she claims have violated his freedom of religious expression by failing to prevent or properly deal with the alleged anti-Semitism.

The defendants “created individually and collectively directly the danger which enabled the plaintiff to be the victim of scandalous and uncorrected anti-Semitic acts and behavior which caused her great emotional damage and forced her to leave her studies” before the start of its third year, the complaint claims.

Kutztown “acted with guilt that shocked conscience and made the plaintiff more vulnerable to the danger he created on campus,” said the trial, which also alleges that university officials urged Pyser to enroll in school with the fraudulent promise of a safe environment and that their inaction has instead created a dangerous and anti-Semitic environment.

The complaint notes that Kutztown was targeted in 2017 by white supremacist groups, but maintains that “the university did not warn that the campus and its immediate surroundings had been the target of outside white supremacist groups and posters anti-Semites, including the posting of signs around the world. the campus area focused on preserving white American culture and announcing neo-Nazi propaganda. “

The alleged actions of Pyser’s roommate – who is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit – and the alleged failure of others to arrest him, caused Pyser harm, “including economic damage, deprivation profit from good deals and losses in school fees, as well as great emotional distress, humiliation and embarrassment, “according to the complaint.

Kutztown spokesman Matt Santos said in a statement on Wednesday that the university is unable to comment on ongoing litigation, but that in general, “our campus rejects all forms of racism, from sexism, bigotry and discrimination “.

He added that a prejudice working group was created in September 2017 to allow teachers, administrators, students, community leaders and experts to advise the president of the university on how to respond to incidents. bias such as hate speech. The accused named in the prosecution, including a multitude of University and Aramak employees, did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent by email before publication.

If Kutztown has a problem of anti-Semitism on campus, it is certainly not the only one.

In February 2018, Nancy K. Baron-Baer, ​​regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said that “far too many Pennsylvania campuses have seen white supremacist propaganda.”

The xenophobic incidents that hit the headlines on Syracuse University campus in November included anti-Semitic and racist graffiti and a separate incident where a student loudly shouted a racial slur against African Americans, as well as other reports of anti-Asian racial epithets and graffiti. The university’s poor response to racism and outrage has led to convictions by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and investigations by national, federal and local police.

And it’s not just on campus. After a horrific stab at a Hanukkah celebration in New York City last month, federal hate crime charges were laid against a man who broke into a rabbi’s house with a machete, injuring five people; a previous series of anti-Semitic incidents in New York; and a separate fatal mass shooting at a kosher market in Jersey City, police intensified patrols in Jewish quarters and synagogues in New York and New Jersey.