Northwestern University under investigation over campus antisemitism

The university president called concerns about rising antisemitism ‘mass hysteria.’

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

The US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating Northwestern University to determine whether it ignored allegations of antisemitic discrimination and harassment after Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, because the students who lodged them are Jewish, according to a report from higher education watchdog Campus Reform recently published.

The investigation, Campus Reform said, followed a complaint filed by its editor-in-chief, Zachary Marschall, who cited, among other things, Northwestern’s alleged nonresponse to the projection of a Palestinian flag onto a school building, an academic program’s defending Hamas as a “political group,” and severe maltreatment of Jewish students, as cause to review the school’s compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which forbids discrimination based on race and national origin.

“The university will respond to the Department of Education and cooperate with its investigation,” Northwestern spokesperson Jon Yates said in a statement to The Daily Northwestern on Wednesday. “The complaint against Northwestern was not filed by a member of our community but instead by an outside organization.”

In November, dozens of Northwestern University student groups and faculty castigated President Michael Schill for dismissing concerns about rising antisemitism as “mass hysteria and collective psychosis.” A month later, the university strongly denounced accusations that it harbors antisemites and pro-Hamas faculty and students, responding to an advertising campaign launched by Alums for Campus Fairness (ACF), a campus antisemitism watchdog, that made such charges.

In 2016, the school appeared on The Algemeiner’s 40 Worst Colleges for Jewish Students list for the presence of pro-boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) groups on the campus and several antisemitic incidents involving expressions of Nazism.

Additionally, an incident occurred at the school when members of Students for Justice in Palestine tacked together copies of an op-ed by a Jewish student — Lily Cohen — graffitied it with the slogan, “From the river to the sea,” and zip-tied it to fences enclosing the Deering Library. SJP then painted the same slogan, which is interpreted as calling for the ethnic cleansing of Jews living in Israel, on a campus monument that serves as an unofficial student messaging board.

Cohen’s op-ed discussed the difficulties of being Jewish in a time of rising antisemitism and defended the right to a Jewish homeland.