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Republican lawmakers condemn campus antisemitism, demand UCLA’s Congress testimony

The United States Capitol is pictured. Federal lawmakers summoned UCLA officials Tuesday to testify in front of a congressional committee over concerns about rising campus antisemitism.
(Myka Fromm/Photo editor)

By Shaanth Kodialam

April 30, 2024 3:30 p.m.

This post was updated May 1 at 3:11 a.m.

Federal lawmakers summoned UCLA officials Tuesday to testify in front of a congressional committee to address their concerns about rising antisemitism on campus and the university’s handling of ongoing protests over the war in Gaza.

The university will join two other campuses in their testimonies  – Yale University and University of Michigan. United States Representative Virginia Foxx told reporters that she had notified officials at each campus about the upcoming testimony, slated for May 23. 

“As Republican leaders, we have a clear message for mealy-mouthed, spineless college leaders: Congress will not tolerate your dereliction of duty to your Jewish students,” said Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina. “American universities are officially put on notice that we have come to take our universities back.”

The hearing adds further scrutiny to the university, which is already facing a Title IV investigation by the federal Department of Education into allegations of antisemitism and Islamophobia on campus since Oct. 7. Lawmakers have previously asked universities that have been called to Washington, D.C., for testimony to later submit further records, such as documentation of antisemitic incidents on campus, disciplinary action for hate crimes and funding sources for pro-Palestine campus organizations. 

In her remarks, Foxx also cited concerns including defaced buildings and canceled graduations. The pro-Palestine encampment, which formed in response to a national call for mobilization, has occupied Dickson Plaza for nearly a week. Organizers have yet to announce when they plan to stop the encampment.

[Related: UCLA community organizes encampment in response to national call for escalation

A wall near Royce Hall is spray painted with graffiti reading, “Let Gaza Live.” (Catherine Hamilton/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Though no such dispute has occurred at UCLA, a University of Southern California commencement speaker who is Muslim had her speech canceled by University officials as pro-Israel groups accused her of antisemitism for her pro-Palestine social media activity. 

UCLA has seen rallies and rising reports of antisemitism, Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism on campus since Oct. 7. Several college officials around the country have been called by federal lawmakers to testify about antisemitism in the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, in which militants killed over 1,200 people. Israel’s retaliatory siege has since killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to the Associated Press.

The past few months’ hearings on antisemitism have often had consequences for university leaders. The University of Pennsylvania’s president resigned in December amid criticism over her responses to questions about student protestors, which some lawmakers said were calling for the genocide of Jewish students.

A UCLA spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A press release from the House Committee on Workforce and Education confirmed that Block was invited to speak alongside other university presidents.

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Shaanth Kodialam | News senior staff
Kodialam is a News senior staff reporter for the Bruin. They were previously the 2022-2023 features and student life editor and a 2021-2022 News reporter for national news and higher education and features and student life. They are a third-year communication and geography student.
Kodialam is a News senior staff reporter for the Bruin. They were previously the 2022-2023 features and student life editor and a 2021-2022 News reporter for national news and higher education and features and student life. They are a third-year communication and geography student.
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