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Concession at Northwestern

Northwestern University president Michael Schill and Pro-palestinian encampment
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By: Zach Kessel – nationalreview.com

After Northwestern University president Michael Schill announced a set of concessions to encampment organizers Monday that included pledging to implement full-ride scholarships for Palestinian students and faculty positions for Palestinian academics, several organizations have called for Schill’s resignation.


In a joint statement published Tuesday, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Brandeis Center, and StandWithUs urged Schill to step down from his leadership position.

“For days, protesters openly mocked and violated Northwestern’s codes of conduct and policies by erecting an encampment in which they fanned the flames of antisemitism and wreaked havoc on the entire university community,” the three organizations wrote. “Their goal was not to find peace, but to make Jewish students feel unsafe on campus. Rather than hold them accountable — as he pledged he would — President Schill gave them a seat at the table and normalized their hatred against Jewish students. It is clear from President Schill’s actions that he is unfit to lead Northwestern and must resign.”

The three groups wrote that if Schill does not resign, they expect the board of trustees to “step in as the leaders the University needs and remove him.”

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) president Morton A. Klein went a step further, arguing in a Wednesday statement that Schill, provost Kathleen Hagerty, and vice president for student affairs Susan Davis should each be relieved of their duties.

“President Schill, Provost Hagerty, and VP Davis should be fired immediately for this disaster — and this dangerous agreement must be rescinded,” Klein wrote. “If a group of white supremacists took over Deering Meadow and chanted for the deaths of blacks, the white supremacists would be immediately removed from the campus — not rewarded with scholarships, professorships, buildings, power over vendors, and investment powers. The same standard should apply here. The Northwestern officials who negotiated and entered into this agreement must be fired, and their agreement must be thrown in the dustbin. The student and faculty trespassers and promoters of anti-Jewish violence should be arrested and expelled or fired.”

In addition to posters depicting Schill with devil horns and a struck-through Star of David lining the fence of the lawn on which the encampment stood, Deering Meadow was host to an incident in which professors fought police officers attempting to dismantle the tents and clear the area. Protesters vandalized a nearby building with the words “Death 2 Israel,” and one student in the encampment wore a sweatshirt with a drawing of a Hamas terrorist on the front.

Wendy Khabie, a parent of a Jewish Northwestern student and the co-chair of the Coalition Against Antisemitism at Northwestern, told National Review her organization is displeased with Schill’s performance as president of the university.

“We have grave concerns about moving forward and working with this administration,” Khabie said. “They have shown a complete lack of regard for the welfare of Jewish students, not only with this recent appeasement and capitulation but also with what went on before and during the encampment. Jewish students were subjected to harassment — both verbal and physical — and would walk by the encampment and see these horrific signs.”

Schill released a video Tuesday in which he addressed the agreement with encampment organizers, saying he was “proud of our community for achieving what has been a challenge across the country: a sustainable de-escalated path forward.” He also noted the antisemitic posters, saying such messages should be “condemned by all of us.”

“I understand the hurt and worry felt by so many in our community,” Schill said. “Jewish students are feeling threatened and unsafe. Muslim and Palestinian students are feeling like their voices need to be heard. It can be difficult to find a path forward, but it is vital to try.”

Khabie told NR that she found the message strange.

“He mentions [the posters] in his message, but then he didn’t say why this is egregious and who will be held accountable for it,” she said. “We can’t stress enough how concerned we are about what happened over the course of the negotiation and appeasement of the students who were basically holding Deering Meadow hostage. Instead of punishing them for the egregious violations of the student code of conduct, he rewarded them to the tune of half-a-million dollars worth of scholarships and funding to further their cause.”

The criticism of Schill is not limited to figures off campus. Seven members of the university’s “Advisory Committee on Preventing Antisemitism and Hate” resigned Wednesday, writing in a letter to Schill that they no longer felt he was operating in good faith.

“We are unable to continue to serve Northwestern University as members of the President’s Advisory Committee on Preventing Antisemitism and Hate at this crucial moment with antisemitism so present at Northwestern in public view for the past week,” the letter reads. “As members of the President’s Advisory Committee on Preventing Antisemitism and Hate, we were not consulted by the University’s leadership and had no role in the agreement reached between the University and the protesters on Deering Meadow. In addition, our committee was unable to reach a consensus on a statement condemning the antisemitism we have witnessed.”

Part of the reason the committee could not come to a consensus may be its composition. Three members of the task force — associate professor of pediatrics Reema Habiby, anthropology professor Robert Launay, and Middle Eastern studies professor Jessica Winegar — signed an open letter opposing the formation of the committee. Another member, an undergraduate student named Mahdi Haseeb, is a leader of the university’s Middle Eastern and North African Student Association, which issued a statement shortly after October 7 saying its members “resoundingly support Palestinian resistance” and described Hamas terrorists as “martyrs.”

The resigning committee members’ letter to Schill continued, with its authors writing that, “in light of the University leadership’s decision not to utilize the committee for its stated purpose, we can no longer continue to serve in this role.”

While Schill’s agreement with the encampment organizers has drawn condemnation, legal experts told NR that there is a great deal of uncertainty as to whether the measures to provide scholarships for Palestinian students and faculty positions for Palestinian academics are lawful.

Dan Morenoff, the executive director of the American Civil Rights Project and an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, told NR that, though Schill did not explain all the details of the press release, the scholarships and faculty positions may violate Titles VI and VII of the Civil Rights act, respectively.

Title VI stipulates that entities receiving federal funding must not allow discrimination, exclusion, or denial of benefits on the basis of race, color, or national origin, while Title VII protects against employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

“Even if they eventually paper the Palestinian scholarship in such a way that it purports to be something else, the fact that this is how they announced it will be very strong evidence of the intent behind the program,” Morenoff told NR. “And given that Title VI is primarily — or, as the Supreme Court has said, exclusively — a disparate-treatment statute focused on the intent of a program, it certainly looks like this is a violation.”

Morenoff said he could imagine the university arguing that Title VI applies to programs rather than scholarships but pointed to a 1994 United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruling stating otherwise.

On the Title VII issue, Morenoff said it is “very hard to see how having national origin-defined positions as part of this negotiation could be compliant.”

Yael Lerman, director of the StandWithUs organization’s legal department, told NR that Schill’s press release “raises more questions than answers right now.”

“I think we need more information,” Lerman said. “For instance, who is providing the scholarship? If the university reached out to a private foundation to provide the scholarship, I believe that it could be lawful, even if the university is advertising it as a resource. If the university itself is setting up the scholarship and sponsoring it, then I think we have more ground to question the lawfulness.”

Lerman cited Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, the 2023 Supreme Court case dealing with affirmative action.

“That case challenged whether Harvard could discriminate against Asians in admissions. The Court found that by having a university show selective preference for one national-origin or racial group, they were discriminating,” she told NR. “That case may prove relevant here, as another private university, Northwestern, tries to institute race-selective preferences in its offerings.”

Noting that the statement specified that the scholarships and faculty positions are for Palestinian students and academics “at risk,” Lerman said there is a lack of clarity as to what that means.

“That brings up another interesting question, which is, ‘Do they have any scholarships for people at risk from other war zones?,” she asked, noting that, no, Northwestern does not. “Why just that war zone? Why not Ukraine? What about students from southern Israel? Is Northwestern going to start offering full rides for every single war zone? What constitutes a war zone? What about when the war is over? Do the students then lose that scholarship? The university has opened a Pandora’s box here.”

Meanwhile, a group of Northwestern students met with members of the House Education and Workforce Committee, including Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.) and Representative Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) in Washington, D.C., Wednesday afternoon.

A committee aide told NR that the agreement between Northwestern’s leadership and the encampment organizers poses several problems.

“This really represents a craven decision to cave to the students who were disrupting university policy, violating rules, harassing Jewish students, and we heard really appalling and egregious accounts of that harassment directly from Jewish students in a meeting today,” the aide said, adding that the provisions in the agreement “are of significant concern to us because — while we’re still getting more information and looking into this — they appear to be violations of the law.”

The aide said that, though he did not want to discuss this specific case in too much detail before the committee thoroughly investigated the agreement’s stipulations, colleges and universities could face severe consequences for failing to comply with the Civil Rights Act.

“If you violate [the Civil Rights Act], there are mechanisms through which your funding can be suspended,” the aide told NR, “and I’ve heard that there are multiple beyond even just Title VI and Title VII . . . I imagine that you’re going to be seeing a lot of people raising these kinds of concerns, beyond just the committee, as people continue to process the deal.”

The aide continued, saying that the committee’s main purpose in working on campus antisemitism is to identify areas for legislation.

“This gets into why we’re doing our investigations on antisemitism. One of the reasons for congressional oversight is to inform potential legislation,” he said. “If we find gaps in the processes, we will come up with legislative remedies to ensure that we’re holding universities accountable and addressing what’s being done to Jewish students on campus.”

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Source: Northwestern University Protests: Calls for President’s Resignation Grow | National Review