Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Rudy Yakym (IN-02) testified at a House Education and Workforce Committee Member Day Hearing where he spoke out against the rise of antisemitism on college campuses in the wake of Hamas’ October 7th terrorist attacks against Israel. Congressman Yakym also spoke about the initiative he is leading to press college and university Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) officials on their responses to antisemitic incidents on their campuses and to hold them accountable for allowing antisemitism to spread.
“It’s baffling that so many of these institutions who police the most micro of microaggressions seem to be meeting this wave of antisemitic, actual aggression with a yawn…
“Some university leaders have stepped up with forceful words and actions, and they should be commended. But too many have not…
“Madame Chair, it’s become clear that October 7 revealed an antisemitic rot in the floorboards of our institutions of higher education. A recent Anti-Defamation League survey found that only 38.6% of students feel “very” or “extremely” comfortable on campus in the wake of October 7. That’s compared to 63.7% before October 7…
“I applaud your efforts to examine this important topic, and I hope we can work together moving forward to ensure that antisemitism has no place on our campuses.”
Click HERE to watch Congressman Yakym’s full remarks from today’s hearing.
Congressman Yakym’s full remarks as prepared are below:
Thank you, Chairwoman Foxx. I appreciate your giving those of us who aren’t on the Education and Workforce Committee the opportunity to present our priorities.
I also want to thank you for calling a hearing next week to examine the topic I’d like to discuss today: the outburst of antisemitism that has gripped college campuses in the wake of the October 7 attack on Israel.
Madame Chair, in the nearly two months since October 7, we as House members have met with the families of hostages and victims. We’ve borne witness to the utter inhumanity inflicted by Hamas terrorists upon innocent men, women, children, and babies through images and video footage that will forever haunt us.
But closer to home, we’ve also heard disturbing accounts from Jewish and Israeli college students and faculty who have faced threats, intimidation, vandalism, and even physical violence. They say they don’t feel comfortable wearing symbols of their faith. Hillel Houses are hiring extra security.
Such a climate of fear and intimidation on our campuses is unacceptable.
It’s baffling that so many of these institutions who police the most micro of microaggressions seem to be meeting this wave of antisemitic, actual aggression with a yawn.
They’ll throw the book at someone who uses the wrong pronouns. They’ll spend time compiling a 13-page handbook of banned words, including “American,” “immigrant,” and “grandfather.”
Yet eliminationist chants of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “Globalize the intifada” ring out from groups marching across the quad. Signs are raised that show a Star of David in a trash can with the caption, “Keep the world clean.” A sign at a recent protest at Reed College even read, “Hitler would be proud.”
Madame Chair, what is going on on these campuses?
Some university leaders have stepped up with forceful words and actions, and they should be commended. But too many have not.
As this Committee knows well, most colleges and universities these days seem to have cavernous offices for diversity, equity, and inclusion, or DEI. I was curious to know what’s happening with the “I” in DEI in the wake of October 7.
That’s why, on November 6, I sent a letter to the top DEI officers at 110 colleges and universities asking some simple questions:
Does the DEI office maintain an official, written definition of antisemitism?
Does it consider things such as the slogans and signs I described earlier to be antisemitic?
Does it have any employees dedicated to educating or raising awareness about antisemitism, handling allegations of antisemitism, and/or promoting inclusion of Israeli and Jewish students and faculty?; and
What actions have been taken and resources provided since October 7 to promote an environment of inclusion for Jewish and Israeli faculty and students?
These 110 schools weren’t chosen at random. They were chosen because of at least one verified incident that could be considered antisemitic. It could’ve been chants or signs. It could’ve been something worse, like Jewish students being forced to barricade themselves for safety. It could’ve been statements from Jewish and Israeli students and faculty expressing unease with their campus environment. Some campuses have obviously been worse than others, but it sadly proved easy to find at least one example at those 110. In fact, I’m taking this opportunity to announce that my office is sending an additional 16 letters today.
Let me be clear. One incident, one action by a few students does not damn a whole university.
But it also doesn’t make these questions any less valid.
If a DEI office is proud of its response and feels like it’s got a good story to tell, I want to know. These letters represent an opportunity to confront – or to confirm – the skepticism that many of us have about DEI offices.
Madame Chair, it’s become clear that October 7 revealed an antisemitic rot in the floorboards of our institutions of higher education. A recent Anti-Defamation League survey found that only 38.6% of students feel “very” or “extremely” comfortable on campus in the wake of October 7. That’s compared to 63.7% before October 7.
I applaud your efforts to examine this important topic, and I hope we can work together moving forward to ensure that antisemitism has no place on our campuses.
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