Foxx threatens to subpoena Northwestern, accuses Schill of false testimony

The Education and Workforce Committee chair accused the school of obstructing the committee’s campus antisemitism investigation

Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) speaks at a hearing called "Calling for Accountability: Stopping Antisemitic College Chaos" before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Capitol Hill on May 23, 2024 in Washington, DC. 

In a scathing new letter to the leadership of Northwestern University on Friday, House Education and Workforce Committee chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC) threatened to subpoena the school. Foxx also accused President Michael Schill of providing false testimony in a committee hearing last month.

Foxx’s letter alleges that, “rather than being cooperative and transparent, Northwestern has obstructed the Committee’s investigation of” antisemitism and Schill “refused to answer questions,” “made statements at odds with the public record” and “demonstrated an overall attitude of contempt” for the committee.

The letter accuses Northwestern of failing to comply with a previous request for documents on the school’s handling of antisemitism and anti-Israel demonstrations. Foxx said in the letter that she’s prepared to subpoena the school for documents and testimony, and that the committee will hold the school’s full Board of Trustees responsible for following her requests.

“Northwestern’s capitulation to its antisemitic encampment and its impeding of the Committee’s oversight are unbecoming of a leading university,” Foxx said. “It is inappropriate to expect taxpayers to continue providing federal funding while Northwestern appears to be in violation of its obligations to its Jewish students, faculty, and staff under Title VI and defies the Committee’s oversight.”

The letter accuses Schill of obstructing the committee by refusing to answer specific questions about specific students and faculty and their conduct. It also said that he provided testimony that contradicts the text of the agreement he struck with anti-Israel demonstrators.

According to the letter, Northwestern produced just 13 pages of non-public documents pertaining to its top-priority requests, all of which were general records of Board of Trustees meetings without specific details. 

Overall, Foxx alleged that 78% of the provided documents were not relevant to its requests and that 46% were already public, as well as that Northwestern provided no non-public communications about the anti-Israel encampment.

Foxx said that Northwestern’s lawyers also had pointed to Schill’s “purported willingness to answer questions as an ostensible excuse” for not providing requested documents or a briefing by Northwestern administrators on the encampment agreement.

The letter gave Northwestern 10 days, until June 17, to provide a series of documents and communications relating to the encampment, antisemitism, Board meetings, antisemitism advisory committee meetings and donations from Qatar, or face a subpoena.

The committee previously subpoenaed Harvard University for documents, and has accused Harvard of defying that subpoena, but has not taken further public action to enforce the subpoena or impose penalties.

The letter comes days after Foxx and the leaders of the House Ways and Means; Energy and Commerce; Judiciary; Oversight; and Science, Space and Technology committees wrote to the leaders of Northwestern, Barnard, Columbia, University of California, Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers and Cornell as part of a House-wide campus antisemitism investigation.

In the letters, the committee leaders vowed to conduct oversight of the use of federal funds on each campus, and outlined the various specific areas of federal law and funding that each committee is examining.

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