Sarah van Loon, Regional Director of American Jewish Committee (AJC) Chicago, released the following statement in reaction to the agreement made between Northwestern University and protest encampment leaders. 

"I am appalled at the cowardly actions of Northwestern University’s administration yesterday. In order to avoid exhibiting real leadership by enforcing its own recently amended policies, Northwestern succumbed to the demands of a mob, which has intimidated Jewish students, espoused antisemitic, hate-filled speech, and whose members have celebrated Hamas terrorists.

This agreement clearly communicates that if your protest threatens with escalation or violence, the university will acquiesce to your demands. This is a sad day for Jewish students, faculty, and staff and for the university itself. 

Why should we believe the administration that in the future it will “enforce University rules and policies,” if they refuse to do that now? How does this agreement actually make the University safer for Jewish and Israeli students and faculty, particularly when it rewards protesters for the intimidating, harmful environment they created on campus? In fact, in its agreement with these disruptors, Northwestern touts steps it will take to foster inclusivity, yet there is only a passing mention of how Jewish students may be supported in that process. 

The agreement - which includes the creation of new scholarships, new professorships, new housing, the creation of new committees and more - makes only a glancing reference to antisemitism, and even then only brackets it with other forms of hatred. In the wake of these protesters’ well-documented antisemitic vitriol, the university remains silent, and leaves its community of Jewish students, faculty, and staff to fend for themselves.

University administrators could have used this moment to act decisively and prioritize upholding their rules and values in the interests of creating better conditions for all students, but instead they abdicated their leadership. 

Instead of kowtowing to mob rule, Northwestern must protect the rights of all campus citizens, including Jewish students and faculty, and create an environment in which everyone’s voices can be heard without fear of violence, harassment, and intimidation – and where there is zero tolerance for antisemitism."