House Reps Grill University Presidents on Anti-Semitism at Campus Encampments

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on May 23, probing anti-Semitic incidents that took place on college campuses during pro-Palestinian protests.

WASHINGTON—The presidents of Northwestern University, Rutgers University, and the University of Southern California, Los Angeles (UCLA), defended their record dealing with anti-Semitism on their campus amid the war between Israel and Hamas.

These universities had anti-Semitic, pro-Palestinian encampments on their campuses that have since been removed.

The hearing, hosted by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, began with the committee’s chair, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), scolding Northwestern President Michael Schill, Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway, and UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.

“Each of you should be ashamed of your decisions that allowed anti-Semitic encampments to endanger Jewish students,” she said in her opening statement.

Mr. Schill said that Northwestern, which is in Evanston, Illinois, has implemented discipline to those accused of perpetuating anti-Semitism on campus.

He also said that the school is updating its code of conduct for students.

Mr. Schill said that while allowing the encampments to remain was not seriously considered by the administration, sending in law enforcement would have been a high risk that could have posed a danger to students, faculty, and officers. He claimed that “there were limited law enforcement resources available to the university.”

Northwestern came to an agreement last month with the encampment members that included offering free tuition to a handful of Palestinian students, though Mr. Schill noted that this is part of a program for students coming from abroad and that Israelis have gotten these scholarships.

In response to the agreement, several members of a task force to combat anti-Semitism on campus stepped down from the task force, claiming they were not asked for input about it. Mr Schill confirmed that and said that it would have been “impractical” to consult Jewish students before making the deal.

Of the more than 8,000 undergraduate students at Northwestern, between 1,200 and 1,600 of them are Jewish, or between 15 percent and 20 percent.

During the hearing, Mr. Schill took heat from Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah) over Northwestern taking $690 million from Qatar between 2007 and 2022. Its contract with the state-owned Qatar Foundation expires after the 2027-2028 academic year and Mr. Schill said that whether to renew it is under consideration.

Northwestern has a satellite campus in Qatar, and its Medill School of Journalism has a partnership with Qatari-owned Al Jazeera, which Israel and other countries have banned for what they say is inciting violence against Israel.

Additionally, Mr. Schill refused to answer if he would have reacted differently had the encampment been set up by white supremacists.

Mr. Holloway cited Rutgers establishing an advisory council on anti-Semitism and Jewish life. He also said that the campus has sought to bring pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students together to hear one another’s viewpoints and create a respectful dialogue.

As part of the deal brokered earlier this month between Rutgers and protesters, the university will accept at least 10 displaced Gazan students on scholarship; create an Arab Cultural Center by the fall semester at every Rutgers campus; and form a “long-term educational partnership” with Birzeit University in the West Bank, among other concessions.

During the hearing, Mr. Holloway sidestepped Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) repeatedly asking him whether Israel’s government is “genocidal.” Mr. Holloway repeatedly answered that Israel has the “right to exist and protect itself.”

Mr. Block said that he gave a written warning on April 28 to the encampment participants to remove their structure. They did not comply.

The encampment was attacked by what was believed to be pro-Israel activists, resulting in law enforcement breaking up the encampment. The delayed police response has come under fire.

Mr. Block said that UCLA “has also engaged independent law enforcement experts to initiate a review of the confrontation, including our planning and safety and security protocols.”

In addition to the university presidents, Phi Beta Kappa Society Secretary and CEO Frederick Lawrence testified in the hearing.

Bill Pan contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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