Last Updated on November 3, 2023 by Robert C. Hoopes
Title: US Law Firms Pressure Elite Universities Over Concerns of Antisemitism on Campus
In a remarkable move, more than two dozen powerful law firms in the United States have banded together to push elite universities to address the rising issue of antisemitism on their campuses. The firms have expressed increasing alarm over reports of antisemitic harassment, vandalism, and assaults occurring in college environments across the country.
The law firms, including industry leaders Cravath, Swaine & Moore; Debevoise & Plimpton; Kirkland & Ellis; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, penned a collective letter warning that they would not tolerate outside groups engaging in acts of harassment and threats of violence. Furthermore, they emphasized the potential hiring implications for universities that failed to address the issue adequately.
Initiated by Joe Shenker, senior chair of Sullivan & Cromwell, the letter was sent to the deans of law schools at renowned institutions such as Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Pennsylvania. Since its inception, several additional law firms have signed onto the campaign, further solidifying the pressure on universities to act.
As a clear indication that their actions are not mere lip-service, real-world consequences have already been witnessed. One law firm withdrew a job offer to a student who made controversial comments regarding Israel, demonstrating the firms’ commitment to combating all forms of harassment and discrimination.
In response to the letter, some universities have taken immediate action. The University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University, among others, have launched new efforts to tackle antisemitism on their campuses. University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill revealed an action plan aimed at countering antisemitism after significant pressure from donors. Likewise, Columbia University is establishing a dedicated task force on antisemitism following a series of incidents within its community.
The urgency to address the matter is further underlined by a recent incident at Cornell University, where a student was arrested and charged with posting online threats targeting the school’s Jewish community. Such incidents serve as a stark reminder of the crucial need for universities to take decisive action in combating antisemitism and protecting their students.
The collaboration between these influential law firms underscores the gravity of the issue and puts universities on high alert. With the collective power behind these campaigns, it is expected that more institutions will be prompted to take definitive steps in eradicating antisemitism from their campuses and ensuring a safe and inclusive learning environment for all students.