The University of Leeds in the UK has settled for an undisclosed sum a lawsuit which alleged that several professors purposefully gave a Jewish sociology student a failing mark for a paper which did not blame Israel for the crimes of Hamas against Palestinians.
The decision prevented the student, Danielle Greyman, from completing undergraduate studies in sociology and pursuing a master’s degree.
Her submitted paper argued that Hamas’ administration of the Gaza Strip has victimized Palestinians.
Greyman alleged that despite confirming the topic and scope of the essay with the course’s professor and tutor, their assistants gave the assignment a low grade of 35, followed by a 'fail' for the course.
Following a successful internal appeal, Greyman has been awarded a 2:1 BA degree with honours, but the student has claimed that the length of time spent on the appeal and Leeds’ confirmation of her degree came too late for her to do a master’s course at Glasgow University.
“If the university had simply apologised at the outset, corrected the marking and offered antisemitism training to staff, I would have felt greatly satisfied,” said Greyman. "Instead, they failed to confirm that I was entitled to the degree until it was too late, and made me wait six months before hearing my appeal, and then a further six months for the re-marking."
"This has been a long and draining process, but it is necessary that large institutions know that they will be held accountable,” Greyman added.
The student's lawyer, Jonathan Turner of UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) stated: “We are very pleased with the settlement and hope that it will serve as a warning to universities and academics not to allow marking to be influenced by the anti-Israel bias which is so prevalent in academia.”
The University of Leeds has denied fault, insisting that an internal review of the incident cleared the professors “of any wrongdoing” and that it embraces the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.
“The listing of this claim in the small claims court was surprising and unexpected,” a spokesperson said. “As a consequence, and on the commercial direction of our insurers, an offer without any admission of liability was made by the university which was accepted by the claimant. This offer was made expressly on the basis that the university does not accept any liability nor accept that the claimant has suffered any loss.”
In a statement posted to UK Lawyers for Israel’s website, Greyman said: “I am grateful for the support that UKLFI and the wider Jewish community has provided, and I hope this encourages other students to take action against institutions that do not uphold their responsibility of ensuring academic freedom and fair marking.”