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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LTE: A letter from five NU faculty members in support of President Schill

As University President Michael Schill prepares to testify this week before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, politicians are likely to compete for the spotlight in pursuit of polarizing political agendas that have nothing to do with what is happening on Northwestern’s campus.

We are NU faculty members working in different parts of the University who have come together to speak out in support of President Schill’s recent agreement with student protesters. We add to the open letters signed by hundreds of NU faculty members in the past weeks opposing the criminalization of protest on our campus and calling upon the university to uphold its commitments to listening, understanding and “asking questions instead of ascribing intent.”

We are proud that NU lived up to these ideals. We reject the depiction of NU as an “antisemitic” and “chaotic” campus. Faculty, students, and administrators work hard every day to foster respect for and appreciation of our differences. It was precisely to avoid the criminalization of protest we have seen at campuses this spring that President Schill and his administration found common ground with respect for differences with the student protesters.

We salute NU students, faculty and University leadership for reaching a historic agreement that models how institutions can respond to student protests peacefully.

NU has avoided the horrific scenes from other universities, such as Emory University, University of Texas, Indiana University and Columbia University, where police have brutalized faculty and students, or universities, such as UCLA, where counter-protesters have violently attacked peaceful student encampments.

We urge those who follow the hearings to keep our students in mind, particularly the many students of color and Jewish students who participated in the protests on Deering Meadow.

As one Jewish undergraduate protester told ABC’s Mark Rivera, “This encampment is the time at Northwestern where I’ve felt most connected to and supported in my faith at Northwestern because it has given me the space to be both Jewish and anti-Zionist.” We hope her voice will be represented in Washington this week.

NU reached a precedent-setting agreement with the students. The University will re-establish the Advisory Committee on Investment Responsibility this fall, and it will include representation from students, faculty and staff. The University has committed to providing information on the presence and size of its position in any holding of any company, whether through direct or indirect investments. And it has agreed to respond to requests for disclosure within 30 days, within the legal conditions of possibility.

The agreement applies to all University financial holdings, and not only those that relate to the state of Israel. It is an important step toward ensuring transparency and accountability across the University’s portfolio. This might include corporations that detrimentally impact the natural environment and contribute to the climate crisis, or those that provide weapons of war used to violate human rights in any part of the world.

The University also has agreed to provide a house for Palestinian, Arab and Muslim students with familial, ethnic and cultural ties to the Middle East and North Africa. This will be conducive to community building, akin to other student affinity centers on campus such as the Black House, Chabad, Sheil and Hillel. It will give this diverse community of students a campus home, rectifying decades of resource disparities. The University also committed to hosting Palestinian faculty and students, whose home universities are now piles of rubble. This continues a long tradition at NU of supporting threatened, displaced or at-risk scholars, including scholars from Ukraine, Syria and Afghanistan.

Some university presidents who testified recently before the House committee were forced to step down. We call on NU’s trustees to resist outside pressures and condemn the House committee’s misrepresentations of our campus. We stand in support of the deliberative process that led to this historic agreement, and we hope the trustees will do the same.

Signed,
Megan Bang, Martha Biondi, Sossina M. Haile, Elizabeth S. Hurd and Mary Pattillo

If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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