America First Legal Sends Legal Demand Letter Warning Northwestern University About the Consequences for Violating Federal Law to Appease Pro-Hamas Faculty and Students

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, America First Legal (AFL) notified Northwestern University President Michael Schill that his shameful decision to appease lawless, violent pro-Hamas protestors by entering into the “Agreement on Deering Meadow” violates multiple federal laws. As detailed in the letter, under this “agreement,” Northwestern violates:

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d. This section provides that no person in the United States shall, on the grounds of race, color, or national origin, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-2. This section provides, in relevant part, that It shall be an unlawful employment practice for Northwestern—(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or (2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It further provides that an unlawful employment practice is established when race, color, religion, sex, or national origin is a motivating factor for any employment practice.
  • 8 U.S.C. § 1324b. This section provides, in relevant part, that it is an unfair immigration-related employment practice Northwestern to discriminate against any individual (other than an unauthorized alien, as defined in section 1324a(h)(3) of this title) with respect to the hiring, or recruitment or referral for a fee, of the individual for employment or the discharging of the individual from employment because of such individual’s national origin, or in the case of a protected individual, because of such individual’s citizenship status.
  • The anti-fraud sections of the Higher Education Act (HEA), 20 U.S.C. §§ 1087e(h) and 1094(c)(3)(B), and of the U.S. Department of Education’s regulations at 34 CFR Part 685 Subpart D and 34 CFR Part 668 Subpart F, authorizing borrower defense to repayment of student loans and providing for penalties including the loss of HEA Title IV authorization, when an institution has engaged in substantial misrepresentation of the nature of its educational program. 34 C.F.R. § 668.71(c) defines a substantial misrepresentation as any misrepresentation, including omission of facts, on which the person to whom it was made could reasonably be expected to rely, or has reasonably relied, to that person’s detriment. 

Northwestern University is one of many American higher education institutions infected with pro-Hamas protestors, many of whom may be foreign nationals. At Northwestern, a coalition of radical leftists and Islamists have banded together to support Hamas, celebrate the October 7, 2023 atrocities, and launch a coordinated program of intimidation and harassment against Jewish and Israeli students. Violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the University has not punished the perpetrators of these acts. 

Instead, on April 29, 2024, Northwestern published an “Agreement on Deering Meadow” to “help ensure that the violence and escalation we have seen elsewhere does not happen here at Northwestern,” protect “the safety of our entire community and…free expression,” and provide “support for our Muslim, Arab and Palestinian students.”

Specifically, the University has promised to “support visiting Palestinian faculty and students” by “funding two faculty per year for two years and by providing full cost of attendance for five Palestinian undergraduates to attend Northwestern for the duration of their undergraduate careers.” It has further promised to “fundraise to sustain this program beyond this current commitment.” It has further promised to “provide and renovate a house for MENA/Muslim students…” 

The University’s promises to hire and fund “Palestinian” faculty and students, to provide and “renovate” a “house” for “MENA/Muslim students,” and its decision to exempt foreign students from generally applicable disciplinary policies, facially violate Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d and 2000e-2, and 8 U.S.C. §§ 1324b. 

This program of appeasement also violates federal higher education anti-fraud laws. The Higher Education Act (HEA) prohibits higher education institutions from making material misrepresentations to parents and students. Here, Northwestern materially represents to consumers that it has a “Commitment to an Inclusive Environment”:

Northwestern also materially represents that it has a generally applicable code of student “Demonstration Policy.” 

By falsely promising nondiscrimination and failing to apply the Demonstration Policy to Hamas’s campus supporters, Northwestern University violates the HEA’s anti-fraud/consumer protection provisions and its Program Participation Agreement. This creates potentially meritorious borrower defense claims to repayment of student loans and provides competent legal grounds for terminating its HEA Title IV eligibility.

President Schill’s decision to violate federal civil rights and anti-fraud laws to appease pro-Hamas radicals is an indefensible and reprehensible abdication of his responsibility to the institution and to Northwestern’s pro-American students, Jewish and otherwise. AFL will not let this stand. Instead, it will keep fighting to protect the civil rights of all American citizens and preserve the rule of law on campuses across the United States.  

Statement from America First Legal Senior Vice President Reed D. Rubinstein:

“The ‘Agreement on Deering Meadow’ is an indefensible capitulation to lawlessness. Northwestern University’s leaders have chosen to appease the pro-Hamas wing of its student body by violating federal law, sacrificing pro-American students, Jewish and otherwise, to leftists and Islamic extremists. President Michael Schill and his colleagues have indelibly stained the reputation of what was once one of America’s great universities and, by rewarding the mob, laid the foundation for future violence.“ said Reed D. Rubinstein.

Read the letter here.

For students interested in borrower defense claims, access our toolkit here. 

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