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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NU SJP, JVP, Divestment Coalition release statement on University President Michael Schill’s congressional testimony

Jacob Wendler/The Daily Northwestern
Schill addressed issues of antisemitism and free speech at a Thursday morning hearing hosted by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Northwestern’s chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace as well as the NU Divestment Coalition — the group behind the pro-Palestinian encampment on Deering Meadow last month — released a statement Friday afternoon condemning University President Michael Schill’s testimony before Congress on Thursday.

The groups said they rejected the legitimacy of the session and alleged that the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) have “misconstrued and exploited antisemitism for their own political interests.” The groups said the Committee’s hearing negates anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab and Islamophobic discrimination. 

While Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) — the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and a Kellogg School of Management alumna — explicitly raised the matter of Islamophobia at NU during the hearing, the committee members’ questions focused overwhelmingly on antisemitism. 

Schill told Jayapal the University will investigate “any form of hate — any form of discrimination or harassment based upon Title IV or other rules at the University,” including complaints about Islamophic incidents. He also announced new measures to combat antisemitism and enhance security and safety on campus, including the formation of a new taskforce and a review of NU’s Code of Conduct.

In addition, though Schill spoke about investigations being conducted into antisemitic incidents reported by Jewish students, the groups behind Friday’s statement said “many reports of antisemitism committed against anti-Zionist Jewish organizers have remained unaddressed.”

During the encampment, Jewish organizers — many affiliated with NU’s chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace — hosted religious services and stood in solidarity with non-Jewish pro-Palestinian activists. The group said Congress has made a “false and dangerous conflation between Zionism … and Judaism.” 

The statement also declares that the hearing “obfuscates” the power NU’s Board of Trustees possesses when it comes to investment and divestment. One of the coalition’s demands was NU’s divestment from Israeli-affiliated companies and institutions. During the hearing, Schill rejected the possibility of divestment. 

“I would never recommend to the Board of Trustees any divestment or anything related to academic boycotts of Israel,” Schill said in response to a question from Foxx on administration negotiations with encampment organizers.

Since the hearing, Schill has faced criticism from lawmakers, outside groups and NU community members who expressed dissatisfaction at his unwillingness to take a harder stance against different forms of hate on campus.

“We assert that both antisemitism and Islamophobia are foundationally white supremacist and upheld by the U.S. government,” the statement reads. “As such, we cast doubt upon the sincerity of the Committee’s mission to protect Jewish people.”

Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s name. The Daily regrets the error.

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