Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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NU undergraduate and graduate deans respond to Israel-Hamas war following Schill’s Thursday message

Daily file photo by Seeger Gray
After University President Michael Schill sent a message last week saying he would not issue a statement on behalf NU on the Israel-Hamas war, deans and faculty across the University sent out their own messages.

In the 10 days since Israel declared war on Hamas following the militant group’s surprise attack against Israel, several deans and faculty members of Northwestern’s undergraduate and graduate schools and colleges have released statements on the ongoing conflict.

University President Michael Schill first informed the community he would not be issuing a statement on behalf of the University on Oct. 12 but elaborated on his message the following day in response to criticism from NU students and faculty. Since Schill’s initial message, deans and faculty across the University have released their own statements, condemning the violence and expressing support for students and faculty.

After the initial Oct. 7 attack, Israel declared war on the militant group and has since launched multiple strikes on Gaza. More than 4,000 Palestinians and Israelis have been killed in the ongoing violence in the region, with thousands more injured.

Pritzker School of Law

Less than an hour after Schill’s Thursday statement, Pritzker Dean Hari Osofsky stood in line with the University’s decision and did not issue a statement on behalf of Pritzker. But Osofsky condemned Hamas’ initial attack in her personal capacity and said she was “deeply concerned for every person impacted by the horrific violence and abhor(s) antisemitism, islamophobia, and every form of hate.”

“Our deepest condolences are with those who have experienced profound loss, and our thoughts remain with those who fear for the wellbeing of their loved ones,” she wrote.

Sixty-seven Pritzker faculty — including two former deans — also issued a statement condemning the actions of Hamas that day. 

They wrote that the developments in Israel and Gaza have affected students and faculty “of all faiths and backgrounds,” noting the death of 25 students and community members at Tel Aviv University, which offers a joint dual-degree program with Pritzker in public law and international law.

“Some have claimed that the Hamas atrocities must be blamed on Israel,” the professors wrote. “What Hamas perpetrated was unspeakably evil. It is dehumanizing to blame the murders on the victims. We absolutely reject such acceptance, and near-endorsement, of terrorism.”

The letter came two days after Prizker Prof. Nadav Shoked — the only Israeli faculty member at Pritzker — sent a message to law school faculty stating his disappointment in the school’s response.

“I find myself doing two things I never thought I’d do, separately let alone at the same time: (1) writing a listserv email (2) expressing support for Israel. But I have now had students reach out to me noting how their emails to the administration have been ignored,” Shoked wrote. “To me, the school administration’s behavior is repulsive, and, moving forward, disqualifying.”

The Graduate School

TGS Dean and Associate Provost for Graduate Education Kelly Mayo condemned “the horrific attack on Israel by Hamas” in a Thursday statement.

“Speaking out against acts of violence directly aligns with our Northwestern priorities of building resiliency and a sense of belonging, defending free expression, and promoting engagement across differences,” Mayo wrote. “There is a history of violence between Israel and Palestine and our thoughts are with the many impacted by this terrible conflict. Our hopes are for a swift and more peaceful resolution.”

Mayo also noted that acknowledging one geopolitical situation is not meant to downplay or distract from other atrocities taking place in the world.

Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

Weinberg Dean Adrian Randolph said he watched the violence with “profound shock and sadness” in a statement Thursday afternoon.

“I wish to express my horror at the brutality unleashed by Hamas and condemn violence against civilians as contrary to the very fiber of what I hold dear personally and professionally,” Randolph wrote. “This condemnation is not restricted to this conflict, but also includes other armed conflicts around the world.”

He added that the school’s priority is to check if any students, faculty or staff are in Israel or Gaza. As of Thursday, Randolph wrote he was not aware of any such Weinberg affiliates in the region. 

Randolph said he hopes Weinberg faculty that have studied the history and politics of the Middle East “can contribute, in ways that align with our mission, to the peace that now seems so distant.” Four Weinberg professors hosted a teach-in on current events in Israel and Gaza in the Norris University Center Monday. 

Weinberg senior Lily Cohen said she was glad to see several deans condemn Hamas’ actions more forcefully than Schill did, noting the importance of such statements in making students feel seen and supported.

“I share Dean Randolph’s horror at Hamas’ brutality as I, along with other Jewish students, have spent the past week checking in on my loved ones in Israel to make sure that they’re alive,” Cohen said. “I hope that these statements are only the start of a culture of support for Jewish students on campus, without caveats or hesitations.”

Medill School of Journalism

Medill Dean Charles Whitaker said although he does not tend to comment on events that “are not directly related to the industries we serve or their practitioners,” he felt recent violence warranted a statement in an email Thursday afternoon. 

“Our hearts break as we bear witness to the carnage and our thoughts are with those who have lost friends and loved ones,” Whitaker wrote. “We hope for an end to the death and destruction, while also wishing for the safety of our colleagues, classmates and alumni who have been dispatched to the region and are chronicling these devastating events.”

Some students expressed frustration with Whitaker’s statement. Medill junior Sama Ben Amer — a former Daily staffer — said she was disappointed in the dean’s minimization of the media’s role in the conflict.

“He said he typically doesn’t respond to these types of things because they have no bearing over our industry, essentially implying that journalism or journalists have nothing to do with this. But that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Ben Amer said. “A lot of the violence that we have been seeing recently is propagated by the media’s coverage of what’s happening in Palestine, making it extremely difficult to get global support for civilians.” 

Kellogg School of Management

Kellogg Dean Francesca Cornelli’s Thursday evening email described the violence in Israel and Gaza as “incomprehensible.”

“I joined Kellogg because it is a place with deeply held values that believes in humanity and in caring about each other,” Cornelli wrote. “True to our values, I condemn the barbaric acts that Hamas committed in Israel.”

Cornelli said the business school’s top priority is ensuring the safety of students and alumni in the region, noting that Kellogg also has a joint program with Tel Aviv University.

Northwestern University in Qatar

NU-Q Dean and CEO Marwan Kraidy sent an email to NU-Q students and faculty Thursday.

“This week has been an incredibly difficult time for many of us, who have experienced pain, anger, fear, sadness, and anxiety about what is unfolding in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” Kraidy wrote. “I acknowledge those feelings and I am myself heartbroken by the violence and loss of life.”

Kraidy encouraged students to reach out to NU-Q’s Counseling and Wellness and faculty and staff to the University’s Employee Assistance Program.

School of Communication 

Communication Dean E. Patrick Johnson sent a message to the school on Friday. 

“As your dean, I want to assure you that we are not only holding space for you to express your thoughts and views, but we want to connect you to the resources our students and faculty and staff may need, as well as all those seeking religious and spiritual support and guidance,” Johnson said.

He encouraged pathways to peace that “recognize the full humanity in everyone.”

School of Education and Social Policy 

SESP Dean Bryan Brayboy said he rejects “any person or institution that supports and enacts antisemitism and Islamophobia” in a Friday afternoon email.

I mourn the loss of human life,” Brayboy wrote. “I mourn the loss of safety. I mourn the loss of futures for children who will never be able to love, live, laugh, cry, and grow old. I mourn the trauma that violence creates and that our bodies will carry into the future. For some of us, the trauma is already here; we continue to carry it.”

He asked students and faculty for grace, flexibility and commitment to the community as a sense of “worry, concern and grieving” has been created. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @jacob_wendler

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