Lawsuits Filed Against Northwestern University Following Agreement With Anti-Israel Protesters
Students set up tents outside Northwestern University as part of an ongoing protest in support of Palestinian rights, demonstrating their commitment to the cause in Evanston, Illionis, United States on April 25, 2024.
Jacek Boczarski/Anadolu via Getty Images

Two lawsuits have been filed against Northwestern University following the school’s agreement with anti-Israel protesters that it would fund scholarships and teaching positions to Palestinians.

Each lawsuit was filed Wednesday, just two days after the university caved to protesters who had been occupying the school’s Deering Meadow. One lawsuit was filed by students while the other was filed by a conservative legal organization.

The first lawsuit, filed by three Northwestern students, accuses the university of enabling the harassment of Jewish students by allowing the anti-Israel tent encampment to remain on campus for several days, CBS News reported. The three suing students – identified in the lawsuit only as Jane Joe, John Doe 1, and John Doe 2 – claim they experienced anti-Semitic harassment during the six days the encampment was in place.

The lawsuit claims that protesters could be seen “openly glorifying” Hamas, the terrorist organization that is the de facto government in the Gaza Strip. They said one protester “barked at passersby demanding they state whether they speak Hebrew.”

A photo included in the lawsuit showed a protest sign depicting Northwestern’s Jewish president Michael Schill as a “bloodthirsty devil.” The photo also shows other protest signs placed on a fence, one of which says “from the river to the sea,” a phrase typically seen as a rallying cry to destroy Israel. The students who filed the lawsuit called the phrase “a genocidal slogan that calls for the elimination of the State of Israel (and, with it, the cleansing or subjugation of its millions of Jewish inhabitants).”

The second lawsuit, filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), argues that Northwestern’s agreement to provide nearly “$1.9 million in scholarship funds, faculty positions, and student-organization space to Palestinian students and staff” violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination “on the grounds of race, color, or national origin.”

Because Northwestern receives federal funds, it is subject to Title VI and therefore cannot discriminate against students for their race. In the school’s agreement with protesters, Northwestern agreed to provide five full-ride scholarships for Palestinian students and fund two Palestinian faculty members for two years. The university also said it would commit “to fundraise to sustain this program beyond this current commitment.”

The university also said it would “provide immediate temporary space for [Middle East and North Africa] MENA/Muslim students.” Following that, Northwestern said it plans to provide and renovate a house for these students “as soon as practicably possible” after it finishes its current renovation project, slated for completion in 2026.


These acts, WILL argues, discriminate against non-MENA/Muslim students and are therefore prohibited under Title VI.

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