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Jewish student is suing Temple University for failing to protect her from antisemitism

Sasha Westrick, 18, said the school did little after she told them she was the target of her roommate’s antisemitic outbursts

A Jewish freshman at Temple University who accused the university of failing to take her roommate’s antisemitic outbursts seriously is suing the Philadelphia school.

In a lawsuit filed in federal district court Tuesday, Sasha Westrick, 18, alleges that officials at Temple — a public university — minimized her roommate’s behavior, conducted a “haphazard” investigation and had to be pressured to change her rooming situation.

“Sasha is not before this Court because she was bullied for being Jewish,” the lawsuit read. “Instead Sasha is before this Court because Temple University helped bully Sasha for being Jewish.”

Westrick is demanding a jury trial, but the lawsuit does not specify what damages she may be seeking.

A Temple University spokesman responded to a request for comment with a statement.

“Temple University is aware of the lawsuit filed by Sasha Westrick. We disagree with the manner in which much of the information in the complaint is presented and characterized. We will respond at the appropriate time through the legal process. While the university does not ordinarily comment on pending litigation, we can say that Temple fully investigated, reviewed, and addressed this matter pursuant to university policies, and appropriate remedies were implemented,” it reads in part. 

In January, Westrick showed the Forward a screenshot of a photo her former roommate sent her. It shows a picture the roommate had taken of Westrick with “I hate Jews,” emblazoned across the bottom.

Temple University freshman Sasha Westrick received this text from her roommate on Sept. 16, 2021. It shows Westrick and typed across the bottom of the photo is the phrase “I hate Jews.” Courtesy of Sasha Westrick Courtesy of Sasha Westrick

In addition to the university, Westrick is suing its president, board of trustees, the State of Pennsylvania and others associated with the university.  She is not suing her former roommate, who, like her, was recruited to the crew team. Westrick has said she decided to leave the team because she felt unwelcome. Her former roommate also left the team.

Westrick’s mother, Amy Westrick, said on Thursday that Sasha has been treated for PTSD stemming from the harassment she endured and the university’s response to it. She has completed her freshman year at Temple, but will not be returning in the fall. Amy Westrick said her daughter is likely to enroll in a university closer to their Rhode Island home.

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