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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President’s Advisory Committee on Preventing Antisemitism and Hate to cease work

The+turmoil+on+the+committee+comes+just+days+after+University+administrators+reached+a+deal+with+organizers+of+the+pro-Palestinian+encampment+on+Deering+Meadow.
Jacob Wendler/The Daily Northwestern
The turmoil on the committee comes just days after University administrators reached a deal with organizers of the pro-Palestinian encampment on Deering Meadow.

The President’s Advisory Committee on Preventing Antisemitism and Hate will cease its work following the Wednesday resignations of seven committee members, the 11 remaining committee members wrote in a Thursday letter to University President Michael Schill and Board of Trustees Chair Peter Barris. 

In the letter, obtained by The Daily, the members write that — given the resignations of seven members of the committee one day prior — “the committee as currently constituted cannot continue to function”

The letter comes on the heels of the resignation of seven members of the committee, including Kellogg Prof. Efraim Benmelech — one of the committee’s two co-chairs — and NU Hillel Executive Director Michael Simon. They cited Schill’s decision not to consult the committee on the agreement reached Monday between administrators and the organizers of the pro-Palestinian encampment on Deering Meadow as a reason for their decision.

“Given the urgency of healing our community, we very much hope that you will pursue the Committee’s goals through other means, perhaps by appointing a new committee in the near future or by incorporating this committee’s charge into that of another, existing committee,” the remaining committee members wrote in the Thursday letter.

University spokesperson Hilary Hurd Anyaso told The Daily Thursday evening that “President Schill plans to continue to engage with members of the committee because he feels the work they have done, and their voices, are vital to the University, as we work to combat antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate, and all forms of hate.”

The committee, which was originally announced in November, began its work in January and originally included 16 members, including faculty, students, trustees and administrators.

The signatories of Thursday’s letter included School of Education and Social Policy Dean Bryan Brayboy — who co-chaired the committee along with Benmelech — Anthropology Prof. Jessica Winegar, Pritzker Prof. Heidi Kitrosser, Associate Vice President for Civil Rights and Title IX Compliance Emily Babb and University Trustee Tarek Elmasry.

They addressed an assertion in the Wednesday resignation letter that the committee was unable to reach a consensus on a statement condemning recent antisemitism on campus. The remaining members of the committee said the members “agreed in principle” that they “abhor and reject antisemitism” and “stand against hate” but had not yet found consensus on specific language.

“While we support the right to free expression and know that the majority of our students and community support peaceful protest and counter-protest, the impact of these behaviors is profound,” the letter reads. “We strongly condemn those who have crossed the line. We are committed to ensuring that Northwestern remains a place for vigorous debate, and that it not become a breeding ground for Antisemitism and Islamophobia.”

The letter also included the most recent version of a message to the community which the committee intended “to further edit in good faith until we could arrive at consensus.” It noted the committee’s dual commitment to free speech and its belief in the University’s responsibility to prevent and address antisemitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hate on campus. 

The draft also referenced several instances of antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus in the last week, including two banners at the pro-Palestinian encampment on Deering Meadow — one of which depicted Schill with devil horns, a historically antisemitic trope that harkens back to medieval-era “blood libel” accusations against Jewish people, and another which showed a Star of David with a red slash through it — which Schill addressed in a Tuesday evening video message to the NU community.

The University did not immediately respond to a request for comment on how the President’s Office intends to proceed given the developments.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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Related Stories: 

ADL, StandWithUs, Brandeis Center call for NU President Michael Schill’s resignation

Seven members of Advisory Committee on Preventing Antisemitism and Hate step down

Students sue NU for response to pro-Palestinian encampment

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