Jewish Students Speak Out, Advocate for Accountability at Universities

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In recent weeks, pro-Palestinian protests have escalated- in some cases turning violent- and have turned welcoming, inclusive university environments into the exact opposite, according to several Jewish students. 

“I have had physical altercations with people, spitting on us. It’s quite disheartening,” said Susan Radov, a first year MBA candidate at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “A lot of my friends just don’t feel safe on campus,” said Radov. 

Radov was recently on Capitol Hill encouraging federal lawmakers to demand accountability from school leaders across the country. 

“It’s really frustrating to not have accountability for leadership and to not have enforcement,” said Radov. “I fully support everyone’s right to peacefully protest. Of course, nobody likes civilian casualties in war, but this has moved beyond peaceful civil protests to hate speech,” she added. 

Last week, the House passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act. Among other provisions, the bill would allow the government to pull federal dollars from schools or programs found to have a hostile environment for Jewish students.  

“We have to make sure we have two things that are running concurrently here- freedom of speech in a safe and secure environment aboard our college campuses, so those students can feel free to walk across the campus, go to their classes, not feel that they’re going to be in harms way,” said Representative Jack Bergman (R- MI). 

Bergman voted in favor of the bill and said Congress has a duty to set an example for the entire country. 

“Congress’s role is to set the tone so that hopefully the rest of the country will follow when it comes to abiding by our Constitution, and especially the Bill of Rights,” said Bergman. 

The Antisemitism Awareness Act awaits consideration by the Senate. Although the bill passed the House with strong bipartisan support, there were still several dozen members who opposed it.  

When asked about concerns regarding the bill among Senators, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D- NY) said: “We’re trying to figure out the best way to move forward,” during a weekly press conference Wednesday afternoon. 

“We’re brought up in these institutions, to really hold ourselves accountable, hold others accountable and have enlightened discourse, and to be courageous and to be brave. And quite honestly, I’m not seeing a lot of courage from most higher institutions,” said Radov.