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10 HLS Faculty Members Sign Letter Condemning House Republicans’ Investigation into Rutgers University

Ten Harvard Law School professors joined hundreds nationwide who condemend a congressional investigation into Rutgers University.
Ten Harvard Law School professors joined hundreds nationwide who condemend a congressional investigation into Rutgers University. By Truong L. Nguyen
By S. Mac Healey and Saketh Sundar, Crimson Staff Writers

Ten Harvard Law School faculty members signed a letter condemning the House Committee on Education and the Workforce for their recent investigation into the Rutgers University Newark Center for Security, Race, and Rights.

HLS professors Nikolas Bowie, Ryan D. Doerfler, Randall L. Kennedy, Duncan Kennedy ’64, Alicia Ely Yamin ’87, Kenneth W. Mack, Jon D. Hanson, Janet E. Halley, Dehlia Umunna, and Christine A. Desan joined nearly 500 law school professors nationwide who signed the letter.

The letter said the Committee’s investigation into the CSRR and its director Sahar F. Aziz, which launched on March 27, threatens “core American commitments to free speech and academic freedom” and is “part of a cynical campaign to censor dissenting speech and delegitimize open and inclusive academic inquiry and engagement.”

In a March 27 letter, the Committee claimed that the Rutgers-Newark CSRR “has become notorious as a hotbed of radical antisemitic, anti-American, anti-Israel, and pro-terrorist activity.”

“CSRR’s Director Sahar Aziz and numerous CSRR fellows and faculty affiliates have records of virulent antisemitism and support for terrorism,” they wrote.

The law professors wrote that the Committee’s letter announcing its investigation into the Rutgers-Newark CSRR is “a politically motivated and viewpoint-based attack on the Center and a tenured university professor.”

“Beyond threatening a bedrock constitutional value of American liberty, the Committee’s conduct compromises a separate pillar of our democratic republic: academic freedom,” they added.

The group sent the letter to Committee Chairwoman Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), according to an email obtained by The Crimson. The professors also repeated their calls for the Committee to end its investigation and urged members of Congress to condemn the Committee.

A spokesperson for the Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The House Education and Workforce Committee’s inquiry into the CSRR is part of its long line of probes into an alleged “explosion of antisemitism on college campuses,” according to a press release from the committee. The investigations have targeted a number of universities, including Columbia University, MIT, the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard.

Former Harvard President Claudine Gay’s testimony before Congress last December on alleged antisemitism on campus drew massive public criticism, which ultimately led to her resignation in early January. The same hearing also led to the December resignation of UPenn president M. Elizabeth Magill.

The Committee also subpoenaed three top Harvard officials in February, including interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber ’76.

The group of law professors wrote that they are “committed, unequivocally, to combating antisemitism” but “the Committee’s attacks against the Center and Professor Aziz do not represent an earnest effort to reckon with antisemitism at Rutgers, or elsewhere.”

They emphasized that the Center “remains the only academic center at a U.S. Law school with the specific mission to research, educate, and advocate for the civil and human rights of South Asians, Muslims, and Arabs.”

The letter also claims that “the fact that the Committee is targeting the only Muslim Arab woman on the Rutgers Law Faculty (comprised of 130 professors) further evidences the improper motivations underlying the Committee’s actions.”

“In wielding federal power and authority to silence the Center and Professor Aziz, the Committee’s efforts share alarming parallels with tactics employed by foreign authoritarians,” they wrote. The list of foreign authoritarians the professors cite includes “the Taliban, Benito Mussolini, and Victor Orban.”

The professors concluded the letter by calling the “United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education to investigate the Committee’s abuse of power during her upcoming site visit to the United States.”

—Staff writer S. Mac Healey can be reached at mac.healey@thecrimson.com. Follow him on X @MacHealey.

—Staff writer Saketh Sundar can be reached at saketh.sundar@thecrimson.com. Follow him on X @saketh_sundar.

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