Touro College Responds to Report On Shabbos Elevator Lawsuit


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The following is Touro’s statement:

Since the founding of Touro College in 1971, the college’s main campus has been based in New York City and many branches of the school are also based in Manhattan, where Touro provides affordable education to a diverse constituency.

Like other institutions of higher learning, Touro has faced challenges in providing affordable housing for its students. To meet the housing needs of students at our West Side campus, Touro acquired 10 West 65th Street, which was approximately 50 percent vacant when we purchased it in 2008. It always has been our intention to use the available units to house students from Landers College for Women – many or all of whom are Sabbath-observant.

10 West 65th Street contains two elevators. To accommodate our students while respecting the other tenants, we followed the widely used practice of allowing one — and only one — of the elevators in the building to be operated as a “Shabbos elevator,” meaning that for 25 hours a week, it would automatically stop on every floor – adding a total of 1 minute and 23 seconds to a ride from the lobby to the sixth floor.

It is unfortunate that the state’s Department of Housing and Community renewal chose to intervene at the request of some of the tenants — who, in the most offensive and discriminatory way — objected to this practice.

We therefore are seeking relief through a judicial proceeding to allow us, as property owner, to operate the building in a manner that is compatible with the religious practices of its student tenants and which poses minimum disruption to other residents.

Ultimately, we believe this matter can be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties in an amicable manner. Our aim is for all residents to live in and enjoy this building.

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