Israeli Student Sues Prestigious Art School For Severe Anti-Semitic Harassment

Professor at School of the Art Institute of Chicago targeted Israeli student in months after Hamas attack on Israel
A Child’s View from Gaza exhibit.

An Israeli student pursuing a masters degree at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) filed a lawsuit after claiming she faced severe anti-Semitic harassment by peers and a faculty member who targeted her for several weeks.

The plaintiff, Shiran, accuses assistant professor Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi of issuing a new final assignment in a “Materials and Media In Art Therapy” course just 10 days before it was due, an apparent retaliation for her for filing an anti-Semitic harassment complaint.

The new assignment required Shiran and her classmates to respond to a collection of images allegedly drawn by Palestinian children that depicted Israeli soldiers engaged in brutal violence,” a press release by Much, the law firm representing Shiran stated.

The prompt for the assignment questioned if students could deal with their own “complicated feelings, internalized racism/ableism/homophobia/supremacy and countertransference” and remain professional while working with clients.

Lawyers for Shiran, who The Daily Wire is referring to only by her first name due to concerns for her safety, say the mother of two is the only student in the course from either Israel or territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority, indicating that the prompt was clearly aimed at her.

“In other words, she is the only student for whom the images could be described as ‘too close to home,’ the statement reads. “The other students did not receive a corresponding assignment asking them to respond to images that might ‘upset’ or ‘trigger’ them.”

A image shared in the lawsuit that Shiran was asked to reflect on during her final assignment. It is from the A Child’s View from Gaza exhibit.ld’

After Shiran reported the assignment, Yi allegedly continued her targeted harassment of Shiran through class-wide emails and changing grading standards, according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on December 22.

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The lawsuit accuses the school of violating Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and is seeking injunctive relief to prevent further discriminating against Jews and Israelis and money for damages and lawyers fees.

A spokesperson for SAIC declined to comment on the specifics of the complaint, citing employee privacy interests and pending litigation. 

The School strongly condemns antisemitism and any discrimination based on religion, nationality, or any other aspect of a person’s identity,” the spokesperson told The Daily Wire. “We have policies in place that prohibit discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and the School is unequivocally committed to providing a safe and welcoming learning environment for all of our students, faculty, and staff.”

History of Anti-Semitism On Campus

The suit claims SAIC cultivated an atmosphere of hostility towards Jews and Israelis, citing an incident in 2018 when a student asked if kosher food would be available in the cafeteria, only to receive a response from the school “that there wouldn’t be and indicated that advertising kosher food may make some students uncomfortable.”

It also describes a time when an anti-Israel teacher of “Philosophies of Sex” cited examples of problematic forms of BDSM including if someone wanted to “‘act out a nazi/Jew scene’ where the nazi says ‘Lick my book you dirty Jew.”

“The professor explained this would be problematic if the submissive was actually Jewish,” the lawsuit states.

More recently, the suit describes anti-Semitic incidents that have taken place following Hamas’s brutal massacre against Israeli civilians on October 7, including a letter written a week after the attack and signed by faculty members who affirmed their “uncompromising solidarity with the Palestinian people in their righteous struggle for self-determination.”

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Mika Tosca, an associate professor who was previously employed by the school, was also named in the lawsuit for posting an anti-Semitic message to social media shortly after Hamas’s massacre.

“Israelis are pigs. Savages. Very very bad people. Irredeemable excrement . . . May they all rot in hell,” Tosca wrote.

Tosca has since apologized.

Assistant Professor Mika Tosca calls Israelis “pigs” and “very very bad people” in a social media post. Source:

Facing Anti-Semitism Before Day One

Shiran was initially rejected from the school’s Art Therapy and Counseling program before an independent investigation into discrimination found the admission process did not follow the school’s “policy or expectations,” according to the lawsuit.

“In her admissions interview, she was denied the typical, mandatory panel of interviewers, and was instead subjected to the harassing inquisition of a single faculty interviewer who showed no interest in her academic qualifications and questioned her ability to work collaboratively alongside Arab and Palestinian classmates,” the suit states.

After seeing Tosca’s hateful social media posts, Shiran sent several emails seeking reassurance about her safety on campus that were ignored by SAIC’s Provost Martin Berger, acting provost Dean Felice Dublon, her department chair, Professor Adelheid Mers, and her program chair and advisor Katherine Marie Kunkel Kamholz. 

The lawyers say the administrators and faculty members have not responded to her emails, more than two months later.

The lawsuit claims that in various classes, including Yi’s, professors facilitated “one-sided student-led conversations expressing vitriol toward Israelis.”

“Shiran’s professors repeatedly demonstrated sympathy toward her classmates’ hostile antisemitic musings, and they continued to demand tha Shiran learn to hold space for her peers’ feelings,” the lawsuit states.

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Yi also accepted a classmate Jannah Sellars’ request to present a project she worked together with Shiran on separately because she was “simply unable to work closely with any individual who denies the genocide so clearly taking place before us,” according to the suit.

“There were no attempts at discussion or resolution,” the lawsuit states. “The school and professor Yi simply catered to the discriminatory request, without a second thought.”

Shiran received a failing mark for “Professionalism: Collegial + Interpersonal Skills” for the joint presentation. She also received a failing grade on ‘Final Peer Evaluation” with her classmates accusing her of plagiarizing Jannah’s work.

“I noticed that you mostly interacted with non-BIPOC-presenting students during skillshare,” Professor Yi wrote in her feedback according to the suit. “Overall, it seems that there was some discomfort during your presentation.”

The day after Sellars’ refusal, Shiran filed a complaint, causing SAIC’s Title IX office to engage outside counsel to review her claims. 

The Final Assignment

On December 5th, Shiran told SAIC’s lawyers that she wanted to initiate a formal process to investigate her claims against Yi. Just two days later, Yi created the new final assignment that the lawsuit claims targetted Shiran.

The assignment showed two groups of pictures. In the first group, were images of “depictions of genital, physical, verbal or sexual abuse, violence and trauma incited [sic] on children and youth.” It includes a drawing of an Israeli father telling his son he is a “bad boy” in Hebrew.  

The second set of images show Israeli soldiers being violent to Gazan families, including one of a soldier smiling while pointing a gun at someone and smiling. 

A photo included in the lawsuit that a SAIC class was asked to respond to.

The lawsuit alleges that the “sudden creation” of the assignment and selection of several images about Israelis “was a transparently deliberate effort to further harass and isolate Shiran, who had just days before requested a formal investigation into Professor Yi’s discriminatory behavior.”

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Although the second set of images were withdrawn from the final assignment after Shiran told SAIC’s attorneys she would seek emergency legal relief, Shiran claims she continued to face harassment and retaliation from Yi.

On December 18, Yi wrote to the class to apologize to students who felt their “learning was compromised” after the second part of the assignment was withdrawn. She added that she would “very much appreciate” if students wrote to the department chair about their perspectives, according to the lawsuit.

The suit also accuses Yi of adjusting the courses grading standards to “increase the weight given to peer evaluations and feedback, class participation, and collegiality among classmates.” It added that the change harmed Shiran’s grades.

Another image Shiran was asked to respond to for her final assignment, according to the lawsuit.

“I am determined to shed light on this issue, not just for me but for everyone who faces discrimination,” Shiran said in the press release. “I believe publicizing my story is crucial to raising awareness about the recent upsurge of antisemitic discrimination in higher education institutions and more broadly.”

Shiran plans to continue studying at the school, which offers a world-class education in art therapy, according to the New York Post.

Shiran’s lawyers declined to comment further than their press release.

When requesting Yi to comment, The Daily Wire received an auto response claiming she is not available to respond during winter break and that the response is an effort “for an anti-capitalism & anti-ableism practice Inbox.”

Berger, Dublon, Mers and Kamholz did not respond to a request for comment.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Israeli Student Sues Prestigious Art School For Severe Anti-Semitic Harassment