Student Sues Temple University Over Mishandling of Antisemitism

In a snapchat, Sasha Westrick, an Asian woman with long brown hair is looking down. The caption of the Snapchat reads "I hate Jews"
In September, Sasha Westrick’s roommate sent a Snapchat with the text “I hate Jews” on it. | Courtesy of Amy Westrick

A Jewish Temple University freshman is suing the university, claiming the administration did not take appropriate action in handling her roommate’s antisemitic outbursts.

In the civil action lawsuit filed on April 26, Sasha Westrick, 18, alleged that Temple University was dismissive of her complaints about her roommate’s multiple antisemitic statements, including sending Westrick a Snapchat her roommate took that showed a picture of Westrick with “I hate Jews” captioned underneath.

“My client, Ms. Sasha Westrick, was being bullied by two of her roommates and Crew teammates and Temple University did nothing to help her and eventually used the University’s own policies and procedures to make Sasha’s situation worse,” Westrick’s attorney Robert Mozenter said in a press release.

A Temple spokesperson released a statement in response to the lawsuit.

“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,” the statement said.

In addition to the university, Westrick is suing the school’s board of trustees, president, assistant dean of students, director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and women’s rowing head coach, among others. Westrick is not suing her former roommate.

Though specific demands were not listed in the lawsuit, mother Amy Westrick, who lives in Rhode Island, believes the suit will potentially be

“It’ll be a monetary settlement, which still doesn’t solve anything,” she said. “I guess it may make them think twice. Maybe they’ll change their policies, or who knows?”

In the fall 2021 semester, Westrick was paired with her roommate because they were both on the rowing team. Westrick said her roommate would make fun of the way she dressed when wearing adornments on Shabbat and asked her for money, saying that because Westrick was Jewish, she was rich. On Sept. 16, Westrick received the antisemitic Snapchat. Westrick’s other roommate allegedly joined in on the antisemitic bullying.

Earlier in the semester, Westrick was summoned by the university’s Title IX investigator for questioning regarding rape allegations against her roommate by several men.

In response to her roommate’s statements, Westrick spoke with her coach and Temple’s athletic department psychotherapist, who, according to Westrick, were dismissive of her complaints and request for a room change. They suggested she put up a room divider instead.

Westrick also claims the psychotherapist had her sign a record release form to share information from Westrick’s therapy sessions about the roommate with her coach. However, Westrick said the therapist shared additional information with the rowing coach that didn’t pertain to the roommate conflict.

“I feel like if my coach just apologized immediately and admitted to guilt on her part or even [my roommate’s] part, then that would have been OK for me,” Westrick said. “But at this point, I think the only way is to solve it through my lawyer now.”

Temple acknowledged the roommate’s antisemitism in a written statement in September and listed community steps to address antisemitism in the future. 

In October, Westrick’s roommates served her a no-contact order that would prevent mutual interactions, but Westrick allegedly only found out about the NCO when her roommates complained about the NCO being violated when Westrick went to her dorm room to move her belongings to a new space.

Westrick stopped attending rowing team practices, and her roommate remained on the team.

The Westrick family decided to file the lawsuit after, on Jan. 29, Westrick’s former roommate called the police on her when she was sitting in the dorm’s common area, claiming Westrick had violated the NCO. Amy Westrick said Temple University Public Safety did not further intervene.

Westrick left Temple at the end of the semester and will transfer to the University of Rhode Island this fall to be closer to her family. She said she will take a break from rowing and, according to Amy Westrick, has sought treatment for PTSD symptoms as a result of the harassment.

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