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Hearing Recap: Rutgers, UCLA, and Northwestern Edition

For the third time this Congress, the Committee held a hearing with university presidents to fight back against pervasive antisemitism on college campuses. Witnesses testifying included Mr. Michael Schill, President of Northwestern University; Dr. Jonathan Holloway, President of Rutgers University; and Dr. Gene Block, Chancellor of UCLA. 
Antisemitic encampments have broken out on campuses across the country, disrupting university operations and endangering Jewish students. The schools represented today—Rutgers, Northwestern, and UCLA— each provided a different case study of exactly the wrong way to deal with the ongoing campus chaos.

In her opening statement, Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) tore into the weak university presidents. She said, “Those who are in charge of universities who negotiate with pro-terror protestors are not doing their jobs. Taxpayer dollars have no business funding universities without principles that align with the principles of this country.”

Chairwoman Foxx kept the presidents’ feet to the fire when the hearing moved to questions. She led with two. First, how many students have been suspended? Second, how many professors have been fired?

Definitive answers were sparse. President Holloway mustered the only real number among all three university heads for both questions, testifying that only four students were suspended.  Chancellor Block failed to answer the question.  President Schill admitted that Northwestern had failed to suspend or expel a single student for antisemitic conduct since October 7.

This follows Northwestern’s refusal to cooperate with the Committee’s priority requests for documents and information, including refusing to produce communications with leaders of the encampment or make administrators available to answer questions on the negotiations in advance of the hearing. The Committee will continue to pursue this information and will not tolerate President Schill’s obstruction.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) continued with barbed questions. Regarding the Anti-Defamation League’s antisemitism report card, she turned to President Schill. “You’re aware that Northwestern was the only university whose grade was downgraded?” she asked.

“Yes,” replied Mr. Schill.

“Isn’t it also true that Northwestern earned an F for your failure to respond and combat antisemitism, and they called for your resignation?” Stefanik asked.

“I have great respect for the ADL,” floundered Mr. Schill.

Rep. Stefanik wasn’t done. After being yielded extra time, she exposed a crucial detail about Mr. Schill’s capitulation to the pro-terror protestors. The deal, called the Dearing Meadows Agreement, was flagrantly one-sided, so Rep. Stefanik asked, “Isn’t that the fact? Jewish and Israeli students were not consulted?”

“Jewish and Israeli students were not consulted,” Mr. Schill admitted.

Mr. Schill stayed in the hot seat for the remainder of the hearing. Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT) asked him, "Do you think it would be a good idea for the university, Northwestern, to partner with a government that harbors terrorist Hamas and Iranian operatives who fund terrorism?"

"I'm not going to engage in yes or no answers," he responded defiantly.

When confronted by Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) with evidence of the Rutgers Center for Security, Race, and Rights’ promotion of antisemitism and terrorism, Rutgers President Holloway said he would not close the Center.

Then, Rep. Brandon Williams (R-NY) went down the line and asked each president the same question: who is funding these encampments?

Mr. Schill and Dr. Block both claimed they were uncertain. On the other hand, Dr. Holloway stated, “I know some we’re funding…I am unable to tell you which organizations.”

Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-CA) rattled off another line of questioning to all three university heads.  He asked, “Is physically blocking students from entering your campus based on their race, religion or ethnicity an expellable offense?”

Each responded with a mealy-mouthed variation of “it depends on the context.” Rep. Kiley then put their words to the test by playing a video of a Jewish UCLA student clearly being denied access to part of campus by a group of antisemitic protestors in locked arms.

He followed up with Chancellor Block. “Have they been disciplined?” asked Rep. Kiley about the students forming the blockade. Chancellor Block gave the predictably tepid response: “This is being investigated.”

Rep. Aaron Bean (FL) ended with a story directed at Dr. Holloway. On a trip to Israel, Rep. Bean ate dinner with a family and discussed the fears that Jewish people are now facing. He added, “The family says ‘what we are really worried about is our daughter. And, ironically, our daughter is starting Rutgers in the fall.’”

These words rung out through the room as the single greatest indictment of university leadership. How could we let the madness on our home soil escalate beyond the literal chaos of war?

It is the question we are still adamantly pursuing, and one that will continue to shape Committee oversight into the future.

In her closing remarks, Chairwoman Foxx discussed the importance of congressional oversight, and warned, “Today’s hearing is the beginning, not the end of Committee’s investigation of your institutions.” She told President Schill, “I am appalled by the condescension and contempt you have shown for the Committee and toward your own Jewish students today,” citing his refusal to answer questions and misleading answers. To President Holloway, she raised the Center for Security, Race, and Rights, and how an advisory board member was recently revealed to be posting and praising videos of Hamas glorifying the murder of Israeli soldiers. She said, “If you are unwilling to close and defund this cesspool of hate, the State of New Jersey should.” She also condemned Chancellor Block’s failure to address the illegal checkpoints and violence at UCLA, telling him, “You stood by and let this happen.” 
Bottom Line: Three hearings and seven presidents later, the Committee will not cease investigations until all university campuses are a safe learning environment for Jewish students. 
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