New York Governor Kathy Hochul has announced an independent review of City University of New York (CUNY), antisemitism policies at the nation’s most extensive urban public university system. This decision comes amidst heightened protests on college campuses nationwide concerning the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Jonathan Lippman, former chief judge of New York’s highest court, will lead the review. The focus will be on how CUNY handles complaints on antisemitism and improving protections for faculty and Jewish students. The study aims to balance free speech rights while safeguarding against antisemitism and discrimination.
This announcement follows Governor Hochul’s visit to Cornell University, where she addressed threats against Jewish students and affirmed state police involvement in investigating these threats.
CUNY has been a center of student activism, often spotlighting Palestinian human rights and opposing Israeli policies in Gaza and the West Bank. The review explicitly targets CUNY due to its history of such activism and the rising concerns around campus antisemitism.
However, the review has raised concerns among some activists. Nerdeen Kiswani, a former Students for Justice in Palestine leader at CUNY, expressed worries that this could suppress pro-Palestinian activism.
The review will assess CUNY’s handling of antisemitism on campus, investigating complaints, and providing recommendations. Governor Hochul highlighted the growing issue of antisemitism on college campuses, particularly at CUNY, referencing the impact of events like the Hamas-led attacks that resulted in significant Israeli casualties.
The outcome of this review, expected in the following spring, will address longstanding political tensions around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at CUNY schools, which have a student body of nearly a quarter-million across 25 campuses.
Incidents reflecting these tensions include the arrest of a pro-Israel New York City council member at a pro-Palestinian student demonstration at Brooklyn College (part of CUNY) and controversies over campus rhetoric concerning Israel’s right to exist, which some Jewish students have labeled as antisemitic.
In his statement, Lippman emphasized fairness and equal justice as the guiding principles for his review. CUNY has committed to cooperating with the study, underscoring its ongoing efforts to combat hate, discrimination, and intolerance.