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January 8, 2020 5:57 pm
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Former Jewish Student Sues Kutztown University Over ‘Outrageous’ Antisemitic Acts

avatar by Algemeiner Staff

Kutztown University. Photo: Dough4872 / CC BY-SA 3.0

A former Jewish student at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania is suing the school over antisemitic harassment and intimidation she claims to have sustained on campus while in her freshman and junior years.

The complaint — filed in federal court last week on behalf of Cassidy Pyser, who studied at the public university from September 2015 through May 2017 — said she was the “victim of outrageous and uncorrected anti-Semitic acts and behaviors that caused her great emotional harm and required her to leave her studies at Kutztown University before the start of her third year.”

The lawsuit, whose defendants also include a number of university employees, accused Kutztown of “fraudulently” inducing Pyser to attend and reside on campus by promising a safe environment, while failing to disclose that the school had previously been targeted by neo-Nazi groups that distributed white supremacist and antisemitic propaganda.

The university failed to properly warn incoming Jewish students and their parents of this activity through campus security reports mandated under the federal Clery Act, the complaint alleged.

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Following her enrollment, Pyser was subjected to antisemitic statements and actions by her roommate’s then-boyfriend, and received text messages from her roommate “that were hateful, threatening and anti-Semitic,” including images of Adolph Hitler and an image of a Ku Klux Klan hood, according to the lawsuit.

“[This] racist sh*t needs to stop,” Pyser texted in response to one image, according to screenshots of the exchange that were included in the complaint. “The Jewish joke you sent me the other day really upset me.”

After the roommate allegedly smashed Pyser’s mezuzah, a small scroll affixed to the doorpost of a Jewish home, Pyser moved out from the dorm room they shared. The suit claimed that no action was taken against the roommate, even though her behavior was allegedly reported to the school’s assistant director of residence and director of residence life.

The roommate, who worked at a campus dining hall, allegedly later confronted Pyser and refused to serve her.

The entire experience, the lawsuit claimed, caused Pyser “permanent and irreparable psychological harm.”

In a statement shared with The Algemeiner, a spokesperson for Kutztown said “the university is unable to comment” as the case was currently pending, but noted that “the university takes discrimination seriously” and that it has regularly affirmed its rejection of “all forms of racism, sexism, bigotry, and discrimination.”

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