Top Law Firms Call for Universities to Tamp Down on Antisemitism
A group of firms warns deans to stop harassment and anti-Israel rallies on campuses
By Erin Mulvaney, WSJ
Nov. 2, 2023 1:06 pm ET
More than two dozen large law firms urged university deans to address antisemitic harassment, vandalism and assaults reported on college campuses in recent weeks.
In a letter sent Wednesday, the law firms, a group that includes Kirkland & Ellis; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; and Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, say they have been alarmed at reports of violence and bigotry on college campuses in recent weeks, including rallies calling for the death of the Jews and the elimination of the state of Israel. The letter was sent to more than 20 top law school deans.
The conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip has sparked protests nationwide, including on college campuses.
The letter said the firms, which recruit from law schools at the universities, have zero-tolerance policies for any discrimination or harassment and want to work with the universities to understand how the situation is being addressed.
“There is no room for antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism or any other form of violence, hatred or bigotry on your campuses, in our workplaces or our communities,” the letter says. “Such antisemitic activities would not be tolerated at any of our firms.”
Another signatory, Davis Polk & Wardwell, rescinded three employment offers to law students at Harvard and Columbia universities who the firm said were tied to statements about the Israel-Hamas conflict, according to an internal email from managing partner Neil Barr. The email didn’t identify the students or detail the comments they made about the conflict.
There have been several examples in recent weeks of violence, protests and threats on college campuses, including at Tulane University, where three students were assaulted at a rally that erupted near the campus, according to school President Michael Fitts.
A Cornell University junior was charged this week with making online threats to Jewish students, according to federal prosecutors in the Northern District of New York. The student allegedly said he would shoot up a campus building and made other violent threats against Jewish people.
The Harvard Crimson reported that 30 student groups signed on to a letter that they held Israel “entirely responsible for all the unfolding violence” following the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel by Hamas. After backlash to that letter, Harvard formed a task force to support students experiencing harassment and security issues, according to the student newspaper.
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