House GOP calls Northwestern, Rutgers and UCLA leaders to testify on college protests, alleged antisemitism

House GOP calls Northwestern, Rutgers and UCLA leaders to testify on college protests, alleged antisemitism

The leaders faced grilling from the GOP-led House Education Committee.

ByArthur Jones II

May 23, 2024, 10:45 AM

    The GOP-led House Education Committee on Thursday called on more university leaders to defend their handling of pro-Palestinian protests and respond to allegations of antisemitism on campus.

    Leaders from Northwestern, Rutgers and UCLA testified as the committee's main witnesses, joining the presidents of Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Columbia University amid a monthslong committee probe it says is aimed at rooting out antisemitism.

    MORE: Presidents of universities grilled on efforts to counter antisemitism on campus

    The heads of Rutgers and UCLA are the only public school leaders to testify since the committee hearings started in December.

    The five-and-a-half-month election-year crusade has so far resulted in investigations of each school, the subsequent ousters of two university presidents -- Harvard's Claudine Gay and Penn's Liz Magill -- and even the first congressional subpoena of a university in this committee's more than 150-year history.

    PHOTO: Demonstrators display placards at an encampment where students are protesting in support of Palestinians, April 25, 2024, at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

    Demonstrators display placards at an encampment where students are protesting in support of Palestinians, April 25, 2024, at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.Nate Swanson/Reuters

    Before the first two committee hearings and at other House events, Jewish students from the aforementioned schools have participated in press conferences and roundtables detailing their fears and frustrations with campus leadership.

    Last month, as college protests over the Israel-Hamas war boiled over, House Education Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx said her panel had a "clear message for mealy-mouthed, spineless college leaders: Congress will not tolerate your dereliction of your duty to your Jewish students."

    She has complained that UCLA did not act quickly enough to remove protesters and that Rutgers and Northwestern officials negotiate with them.

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    During the same news conference, Speaker Mike Johnson expanded the Education Committee's antisemitism probe into a House-wide investigation after weeks of college campus protests, which included encampments at schools like Columbia University.

    PHOTO: Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., speaks during a news conference to decry pro-Palestinian protests at universities across the country at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, April 30, 2024, in Washington.

    Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., speaks during a news conference to decry pro-Palestinian protests at universities across the country at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, April 30, 2024, in Washington.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    MORE: Speaker Johnson, House Republicans ramp up criticism of 'out of control' college protests

    Thursday's hearing comes after the cancellation of Columbia's main graduation ceremony and the clearing of several pro-Palestinian demonstrations at universities around the country.

    UCLA became a flashpoint of the nationwide campus protests when violent clashes broke out between protesters and counterprotesters as police allegedly stood by.

    Earlier this week, former UCLA Police Chief John Thomas was reassigned temporarily, pending an examination of the school's security processes, the school said in a statement to ABC News.

    Foxx has insisted to ABC News that the Education Committee is not out to get [college] presidents, saying it has been the committee's goal to hold them accountable and maintain safe learning environments for students at school.

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