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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Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Honda Sport Award
District 65 School Board votes to close Dr. Bessie Rhodes School
Kathryn Hahn declares class of 2024 “worthy of celebration” in commencement address
Pro-Palestinian graduates walk out of 2024 Commencement Ceremony in solidarity with Gaza
‘Wildcats should have wild dreams:’ Nikki Okrah delivers optimistic 2024 Weinberg Convocation address
The Daily Explains: Contextualizing the Evanston reparations lawsuit
NU announces plans to prevent disruptions at commencement
Perry: A little humility goes a long way

Brew, Hou, Leung, Pandey: On being scared to tweet and the pressure to market yourself as a student journalist

June 4, 2024

Haner: A love letter to the multimedia room

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Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Honda Sport Award

Lacrosse: Northwestern’s Izzy Scane wins 2024 Tewaaraton Award

May 30, 2024

Lacrosse: No. 1 Northwestern falls 14-13 to No. 2 Boston College in national championship battle

May 26, 2024

Campus Kitchens fills plates and hearts

Why Club Sports at Northwestern?

NU Declassified: Prof. Barbara Butts teaches leadership through stage management

Everything Evanston: Behind the boba in downtown Evanston

Hamed: Calling out University bias against MENA students

When I served as co-president of Northwestern’s Middle Eastern North African Student Association from 2023-2024, I witnessed firsthand the ways in which Arabs at NU assumed many roles: students, friends, mentors, and perhaps most notably, builders.

We built a community for ourselves that nurtures the long-held Arab ideals of resilience and resistance. As a leader, I advanced common-sense initiatives that increase our presence and inclusivity on campus, a stated NU value, but not with ease. The unabating obstacles during this process speak to the current climate of what it means to be an Arab in higher education: navigating academia in a context blind to our existence.

This development of a MENA community at NU derives from our determination to dismantle global practices of Arab erasure and subjugation. Our determination is especially encompassed in our unity around the struggle for Palestinian liberation. But students who speak up for Palestine on college campuses, especially at NU, are susceptible to a vicious culture, and the perpetrators of this culture operate with impunity.

Of note, it is the hypocrisy of prominent figures, from Joe Biden to Michael Schill, that allow for this status quo to manifest and dangerously expand. When Schill and his counterparts write addresses condemning antisemitism with no regard for the rampant Islamophobia and anti-Arab sentiment throughout the country, they are telling a one-sided story that lends to this immunity.

I am weary of President Schill’s emails — not for what they include, but what they exclude. He is far too acclimated with the nature of downplaying Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim suffering. He wrote in a Nov. 13 email that there was a “brutal terrorist attack on Israel by Hamas” on Oct. 7 but only “ensuing military action in Gaza.” To be clear, he wrote, “Northwestern will not stand for antisemitism” or “other forms of hate.” Arabs and Muslims — we are an afterthought at best. This inability to identify Arabs and Muslims, to concede that we too exist in a heightened harsh reality of threat, is ignorant.

I have no choice but to come to the logical conclusion that NU is riddled with hypocrisy. On Tuesday, May 14, I returned to my off-campus apartment with my name crossed out on my mailbox and “HAMAS” written underneath. That following Thursday, I returned home again with a series of MENA Studies’ “Palestine in Context” flyers taped to my front door, vandalized with the messages: “WE DON’T NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS” and “HAMAS WILL RAPE.”

If we want to talk about divisive, violent rhetoric, this is about as harmful as it gets. I immediately contacted the University to inform them of this event. Two separate administrators promised that I would be receiving a phone call from Schill. It never came.

I hoped that Schill would prove me wrong and debunk the aura of hypocrisy he has assumed. At the very least, if he could not issue me a phone call, I expected a community email from him in my inbox the next day, noting that this University rejects these hate tactics and is committed to ensuring the protection of all students.

After all, within 24 hours of the defacement of Israeli and American flags on Deering Meadow, we were all reading about how unacceptable these actions are. There was also a vague mention of the removal of “banners and signs,” although you would be forgiven for having missed that this referred to the brazen tearing of Palestinian art and images of the destruction in Gaza by an “angry mom.” Yet, somehow, when an Arab student is targeted in her own home, Schill is silent.

The sad reality is that this incident is the most recent in the history of the University ignoring discrimination against their Arab and Muslim students. Schill was also silent when the Students Publishing Company pursued criminal charges against two students of color for their Palestine activism. Schill was also silent when Zionists doxxed and harassed multiple pro-Palestine NU students on social media. Schill was also silent when pro-Israeli counter-protestors on Deering Meadow called peaceful demonstrators terrorists and wished sexual assault upon them. The administration’s silence shows us one thing: the sanctity of safety is a privilege, and one that it will not extend to Arab and Muslim students and their allies.

In truth, I am hardly surprised. Schill is responding to the anti-Palestinian incentives in his environment, which spans from the meeting rooms of Northwestern’s Board of Trustees to the halls of Congress. Consider what happened to Sonoma State University President Mike Lee, who was put on “leave” after daring to reach a negotiated settlement with pro-Palestinian protestors. Or indeed, what happened to Schill, who was hooked alongside Rutgers’ President Jonathan Holloway to answer for having caved to pro-terror encampment protestors, which is how Virginia Foxx’s House Committee apparently views peaceful pro-Palestinian students speaking out about ongoing Palestinian suffering and Israeli crimes against humanity.

Many Zionists have worked diligently to conflate any sympathy for the Palestinian cause with antisemitism. Within this philosophy, they embolden aggressive treatment of Arabs and Muslims through their dialogue on Palestine-Israel, which intentionally advances the idea that we as Arabs are barbaric, uncivil and unworthy of a dignified response to threats to our wellbeing.

I am here to tell the NU community that I will not be disparaged. My welfare matters no less than any other student’s. I reject the fundamental dehumanization of Arab and Muslim life.

The honor of Arab and Muslim students at NU is something I will not be silent about. The honor of the more than 35,000 innocent Palestinians Israel murdered in Gaza is something I will not be silent about. The honor of Palestinians who have endured 76 years of occupation at the hands of the U.S.’s colonial outpost in the Middle East is something I will not be silent about.

Every time I open my phone to read the news, I am reminded that the hate crime I faced pales in comparison to the massacres in Gaza right now. The fear I now experience walking into my apartment is nowhere near the fear Palestinian children feel as they watch bombs destroy their schools, playgrounds, hospitals and homes, as they watch their families die in front of them. Yet, that does not mean that the threats to my physical safety that I have been subjected to are any less important or worthy of administrators’ attention than the fears that pro-Israeli Jewish students say they feel from slogans and chants.

I implore us to think about the double standard and why we have relegated Arab and Muslim students to the status of second-class citizens. And I urge us all to critically assess the institutional environment NU and other establishments like it have created where engaging in advocacy for Palestine is a sin.

I dream of a NU that embraces Arab and Muslim students for who we are and what we stand for — equity for all. Calling for a ceasefire is part of this equity. Saying Palestinian lives matter is part of this equity. Urging NU to end its complicity in violence by divesting from all entities aiding the Israeli government’s violence is part of this equity.

After a long journey, I am lucky to seek refuge in a small but brave community at NU who stand in solidarity with these values. I dream of a NU where every Arab and Muslim gets this community from day one — because we deserve to feel respected.

Eman Hamed is a Weinberg junior. She can be contacted at [email protected]. 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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