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The Daily Northwestern

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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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University President Michael Schill announces new Advisory Committee on Free Expression and Institutional Speech

The+formation+of+the+committee+comes+after+the+U.S.+Department+of+Education+opened+an+investigation+into+Northwestern+last+month+for+its+handling+of+alleged+incidents+of+antisemitism.
Daily file photo by Jacob Wendler
The formation of the committee comes after the U.S. Department of Education opened an investigation into Northwestern last month for its handling of alleged incidents of antisemitism.

Northwestern President Michael Schill announced a new Advisory Committee on Free Expression and Institutional Speech in a University-wide statement Monday. 

Pritzker Prof. Erin Delaney, who specializes in Constitutional law, will chair the 11-person committee. Other members include NU President Emeritus Henry Bienen; Weinberg Prof. Eli Finkel; Weinberg Prof. Vicky Kalogera, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics; McCormick Prof. Milan Mrksich and Medill Prof. Peter Slevin.

“The panel consists of some of Northwestern’s preeminent scholars from across disciplines, scholars who will examine the issue from different perspectives and, hopefully, with different viewpoints — the type of intellectual debate that lies at the very core of academic freedom,” Schill said in the message.

Schill said he tasked the committee with identifying boundaries for free expression and academic freedom on campus, evaluating circumstances in which University officials should make statements on behalf of their constituents about political or international issues. The committee will also consider how the University should incorporate the committee’s recommendations into the community.

The University did not immediately respond to request for comment on whether the committee’s findings will be incorporated into the Student Handbook.

The formation of the committee comes after the U.S. Department of Education opened an investigation into Northwestern last month for its handling of alleged incidents of antisemitism. Schill also faced criticism from alumni in December for his response to antisemitism on campus in recent months.

Israel’s continued ground and air offensive in the Gaza Strip has killed more than 29,000 Palestinians, according to Palestinian officials. The offensive began after the militant group Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel killed about 1,200 Israelis, according to Israeli officials. 

The President’s Advisory Committee on Preventing Antisemitism and Hate, formed in November, has been at work under co-chairs Kellogg Prof. Efraim Benmelech and SESP Dean Bryan Brayboy. The committee held a listening session with a group of over 40 Jewish students last month and plans to hold sessions with Arab and Muslim students in the future, according to a message from the co-chairs.

Since Oct. 7, Schill has defended his position of institutional neutrality while emphasizing his commitment to free speech and opposition to antisemitism in several messages to the NU community.

“Worldwide events have sometimes strained our abilities to respectfully debate issues that we hold dear — but also have again laid bare why the concepts of academic freedom and freedom of expression are so important not just to the mission of our great University, but to solving the world’s problems,” Schill said in Monday’s message.

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