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Northwestern University President ‘Grew a Spine’ After Hit with House Committee Investigation: Watchdog Group

The president of Northwestern University near Chicago threatened anti-Israel agitators with “disciplinary action,” which critics say came after the school was hit with a U.S. House committee’s investigation into antisemitism on campus.

Northwestern University President Michael Schill said that Northwestern students used red paint to vandalize a display of Israeli and American flags on Sunday.

“Northwestern’s commitment to freedom of expression does not include vandalism,” Schill wrote in a statement Monday.

“And let me be clear — spraying red paint over Israeli or American flags is vandalism and is unacceptable,” he said. “The University will investigate these incidents thoroughly, and if individuals from Northwestern can be identified, we will pursue disciplinary action.”

Schill’s statement threatening “discipline” came after school administrators struck a highly-criticized deal with anti-Israel demonstrators to end an illegal encampment on campus. 

Under the agreement, the university said it will cover the full cost of attendance for five Palestinian students who attend the school for the duration of their undergraduate careers. The agreement also provides for immediate temporary space for [Middle East and North Africa] MENA/Muslim students, and a house for MENA/Muslim students that is conducive to community building as soon as practically possible, or sometime after 2026.

Liora Rez, the founder and executive director of StopAntisemitism, told Fox News Digital that Schill’s statement against the protesters was long overdue.

“Northwestern University president Michael Schill now says that ‘spraying red paint over Israeli or American flags is vandalism and is unacceptable,’ but for weeks his administration has allowed Jewish and pro-Israel students to be assaulted, harassed, threatened, spat upon, intimidated, and otherwise targeted by other students, agitators, and even faculty,” Rez said. “That, apparently, was acceptable.”

Rez argued that Schill only “grew a spine” due to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce launching an investigation into the university’s response to antisemitism on campus.

“Now that Congress is investigating antisemitism at Northwestern, suddenly President Schill grows a spine,” Rez said. “All along he should have been standing up for the Jewish and pro-Israel students, and for the vast majority of students who are there to study.”

William Jacobson, a Cornell University Law Professor and the Founder of EqualProtect.org, told Fox News Digital that Northwestern is “obviously feeling the pressure.” 

“Northwestern obviously is feeling the pressure for the negative reaction to its deal struck to remove the encampment, which included discriminatory scholarships and housing demanded by the protesters,” Jacobson said. “Add to that federal pressure, and Northwestern is getting tougher, at least in appearance. Whether this is real or feigned remains to be seen.”

Rez added that Northwestern has a “years-long history of accommodating antisemitism.”

“Northwestern has a years-long history of accommodating antisemitism, so it was no surprise that President Schill and the university trustees capitulated to the bigoted and possibly illegal demands of the antisemitic demonstrators in a disgusting and craven exhibition of ineffective leadership,” she said.

Last week, Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., the chairperson of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, sent a letter to Northwestern University leaders demanding answers to the agreement reached with anti-Israel agitators.

In her letter, Foxx said her committee has opened an investigation into the university’s response to antisemitism and its failure to protect Jewish students. She is demanding the school provide documents and communications concerning the encampment and alleged antisemitic incidents that have taken place at Northwestern since Oct. 7, in addition to other materials. 

The school has until May 17 to respond ahead of a May 23 hearing in Washington, D.C., where Schill and the presidents of UCLA and Rutgers University will appear in front of the committee.

In a previous statement to Fox News Digital on the House Committee’s investigation, Northwestern said that the university is “committed to combating antisemitism on campus and ensuring the safety of all Northwestern students. President (Michael) Schill looks forward to discussing the steps Northwestern has taken with the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.”