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
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The Daily Explains: Contextualizing the Evanston reparations lawsuit
NU announces plans to prevent disruptions at commencement
Perry: A little humility goes a long way

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June 4, 2024

Haner: A love letter to the multimedia room

June 4, 2024

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?

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The Daily Explains: As NU President Michael Schill prepares to testify, here’s a look at how other college presidents have fared at antisemitism congressional hearings

Daily file photo by Jacob Wendler
Ahead of University President Michael Schill’s appearance at Congress on Thursday morning, The Daily has compiled a summation of the first two hearings on antisemitism on college campuses.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce, led by chairwoman U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), called University President Michael Schill and the leaders of two other universities to appear for a Thursday hearing about antisemitism on college campuses. 

The hearing, titled “Calling for Accountability: Stopping Antisemitic College Chaos,” will mark the committee’s third on antisemitism within college campuses since December 2023. It comes after the leaders of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Columbia University have testified in front of Foxx’s committee. 

Testifying alongside Schill are University of California, Los Angeles Chancellor Gene Block and Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway.

Before taking over as chancellor in 2017, Block was the school’s executive vice president and provost, coinciding with Schill’s tenure as UCLA School of Law’s dean.

Block has come under fire for UCLA’s response to its pro-Palestinian encampment after counterprotesters assaulted several students on May 1. The committee has accused Block and other UCLA administrators of perpetuating campus antisemitism.

“UCLA’s leaders have allowed their campus to become a severe and pervasive hostile environment for Jewish students, standing by as students, faculty and affiliates were assaulted and harassed,” Foxx’s May 15 letter to Block, UC President Michael Drake and UC Board of Regents Chair Richard Leib reads.

Planning to retire from his post in August, Block has voiced his dedication to repairing trust, reducing discrimination and protecting free expression on campus until the end of his term.

Like Schill, Holloway — who served as NU’s provost from 2017-20 — made some concessions to demonstrators in exchange for dismantling the encampment at Rutgers.

A Rutgers student filed a lawsuit against the school following the agreement based on allegations including violations of discrimination, harassment and “hostility at Rutgers towards Jewish students.” Rutgers also faces concerns from government officials, who have called for further investigation of antisemitism on campus.

The first hearing, held in December 2023, saw the leaders of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania confronted by Foxx and committee members on their free speech and demonstration policies. Foxx opened that hearing by alleging leaders of those campuses failed to protect students from incidents of “vitriolic, hate-filled antisemitism” since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

That attack killed 1,200 Israelis, according to Israeli officials. In response, Israel has continued an air and ground offensive in Gaza that has killed over 35,000 Palestinians, according to Palestinian officials. 

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) asked the witnesses whether “calling for the genocide of Jews” was in violation of each university’s code of conduct. She referred specifically to chants of “intifada” — a phrase that means “rebellion” and refers to two violent Palestinian uprisings against the Israeli state in 1987 and 1993 — from student protesters.

Harvard’s Claudine Gay, MIT’s Sally Kornbluth and Penn’s Elizabeth Magill all condemned antisemitism on campus.

“History teaches us that where antisemitism goes unchecked, other forms of hate spread and ultimately can threaten democracy,” Magill said in her opening remarks.

While condemning antisemitism, the university leaders reiterated a commitment to free speech in response to the committee’s questions and defended the actions of their respective university administrations.

“When speech crosses into conduct that violates our policies — policies against bullying, harassment, intimidation — we take action,” Gay said.

Gay and Magill have since resigned from their positions, while Kornbluth remains at MIT. All three presidents who testified at the first congressional hearing were — like Schill — relatively new to their posts.

At the second hearing, Columbia administrators — including Columbia President Minouche Shafik — were questioned about chants used by pro-Palestinian protesters. Shafik said chants of “intifada,” along with “by any means necessary,” were, to her, “incredibly distressing.”

She said current Columbia rules do not specify that slogans like “globalize the intifada” are prohibited but noted she has sent a “very clear message” that these messages are “unacceptable.”

Columbia faculty who appeared to support militant group Hamas were also brought up during the hearing. 

Shafik said there were five cases at the time of faculty who had been removed from the classroom or dismissed as a result of their comments on the Israel-Hamas war. 

“On my watch, faculty who make remarks that cross the line in terms of antisemitism, there will be consequences for them,” Shafik said. 

Foxx and her colleagues will likely scrutinize the actions and rhetoric of Medill Prof. Steven Thrasher’s, who documented his experience at the Deering Meadow encampment on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

The day after her testimony, Shafik authorized the New York Police Department to clear out a pro-Palestinian encampment. Officers arrested more than 100 protesters, an action which prompted universities across the country to set up similar “Liberated Zone” demonstrations, including at Northwestern.

Unlike other college campuses, NU administrators refrained from mobilizing law enforcement and University Police held a minimal presence at the encampment after its first day. 

NU administrators’ decision to strike a deal with encampment organizers after six days drew Foxx’s criticism. In her letter, she writes that University leaders “surrendered to the violators in a shameful agreement,” a decision likely to be criticized in the committee hearing. 

Thursday’s hearing is set to begin at 8:45 a.m. CDT in the Rayburn House Office Building. 

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @beatricedvilla

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What to Watch For: University President Michael Schill gears up for congressional testimony

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House Committee on Education and the Workforce opens antisemitism investigation into NU

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