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

Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



NU pushes back on ad campaign hitting University President Michael Schill on campus antisemitism

Daily file photo by Joss Broward
NU characterized an ad campaign against NU President Michael Schill as pushing “false narratives” in a Wednesday statement.

Northwestern criticized an advertising campaign by Jewish nonprofit advocacy group Alums for Campus Fairness in a Wednesday statement, writing that it “will not stand idly by as outside groups push false narratives to harm the University and our community.”

ACF announced a six-figure advertising campaign criticizing University President Michael Schill’s response to antisemitism on campus Wednesday morning. The campaign will kick off Saturday with digital ads set to run during NU Football’s game against Utah at the Las Vegas Bowl and continue with TV ads in the Chicago area beginning in early 2024, according to an ACF news release.

“By refusing to define and denounce antisemitism, Northwestern is tacitly endorsing the climate of fear and intimidation for Jews on campus,” ACF Executive Director Avi Gordon said in the release.

ACF’s first ad, posted to YouTube Wednesday, reiterates those demands and calls on NU to “stop the hatred” and “stop making us live in fear.”

In a Wednesday news release, NU said it is aware of the advertising campaign but refutes allegations that the University and Schill have not adequately addressed antisemitism on campus.

“These are outlandish claims not based on facts, including the claim that ‘student and faculty groups ‘resoundingly support’ Hamas Terrorism,’” NU’s release reads. “Moreover, President Schill has been outspoken condemning antisemitism and the terrorist attack on Israel and has taken several proactive steps to address antisemitism on campus, including the establishment of the President’s Advisory Committee on Preventing Antisemitism and Hate.”

The announcement of that committee — along with past statements by Schill on the Israel-Hamas war — divided the NU community. Students, faculty and staff have weighed in on the administration’s response since the militant group Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack killed about 1,200 Israelis, according to Israeli officials. Israel’s continued ground and air offensive in the Gaza Strip has killed nearly 20,000 Palestinians since, according to Palestinian officials.

NU’s Wednesday statement added that individuals who violate NU’s code of conduct will be “held accountable under University policies and procedures,” noting that the University does not tolerate antisemitism or other discriminatory acts against members of its community.

The statement comes two weeks after the presidents of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania faced backlash over their remarks at a congressional hearing about antisemitism on college campuses. The administrators testified that whether or not calling for the genocide of Jews would violate their universities’ codes of conduct depends on context, including whether such speech crosses into conduct.

Penn President Liz Magill later stepped down, and Harvard President Claudine Gay apologized for her remarks.

ACF is also collecting signatures for a petition calling on President Schill to “unequivocally condemn the hate expressed by so many Northwestern student and faculty groups” and adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism.

That definition, adopted by the Department of State along with 30 other IHRA member countries, defines antisemitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews” and includes rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism which are “directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

The IHRA’s working definition includes “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” and “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel” as examples of antisemitism. It notes, however, that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.”

The letter also referenced several statements authored by student groups and faculty departments — including NU Students for Justice in Palestine, NU Community for Human Rights, the Middle Eastern North African Student Association and the Asian American Studies Program — and called on Schill to mandate training on antisemitism for faculty members who signed such statements.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @jacob_wendler

Related Stories: 

Northwestern community reacts to Schill’s antisemitism committee

NU President Michael Schill emphasizes value of free speech

Northwestern deans issue statements on Israel-Hamas war

More to Discover