Congressman Banks demanded the university inform him of findings on campus antisemitism by Dec. 1
Professors at Indiana University Bloomington signed an open letter opposing a lawmaker’s demand that the university address allegations of antisemitism on campus.
The letter reads, “we write to express our serious concern about the recent letter that has been sent by Republican Rep. James Banks to IU President Pamela Whitten.”
Four professors authored the letter: political scientist Jeffrey Isaac, Professor of English and International Studies Purnima Bose, Professor of History Alex Lichtenstein, and Professor of Germanic Studies Benjamin Robinson.
The College Fix emailed Professors Isaac, Bose, Lichtenstein, and Robinson Dec. 4 to ask whether campus antisemitism has been a problem since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks and if so, how it ought to be addressed. No response has been received.
“In the letter, Rep. Banks [pictured] raises questions about whether IU has been sufficiently responsive to antisemitism on campus, and indicates that failure to satisfy his concerns could lead to Congressional investigation and possible funding cuts,” it states.
“We are alarmed by the threatening tone of the letter, the way in which it injects ideology into the proper governance of the university, and the way it conflates academic leadership with the policing of controversial ideas,” it states. “In the present environment, his letter can only serve to further divide our students, by inhibiting the free expression of ideas—including controversial political ideas—at a time when the exchange of words rather than bullets is sorely needed.”
The letter also includes an Editors’ Note stating that the names of the signatories were removed “by request” on Dec. 1.
In his own letter to President Whitten, Representative Jim Banks had expressed concern over “the recent resignations of multiple Indiana University (IU) Bloomington students from the Indiana University Student Government (IUSG) over IUSG’s failure to combat campus antisemitism.”
“As an IU graduate, allegations of antisemitism at my alma mater are personal and extremely concerning to me,” Banks continued.
He requested that IU inform his office on findings on antisemitism at the university and answer several questions, including how many antisemitic incidents have been reported to the IU Antisemitism Advisory Board and whether the president or any other members of IU leadership has met with the task force since Oct. 7.
The Fix left a voicemail Dec. 4 with Rep. Banks’ office to ask whether IU met his deadline of Dec. 1 to respond to the letter and, if so, what they specified in their response. No response has been received.
The Fix reported last month that dozens of Republican Congress members signed letters on Nov. 1 accusing five Ivy League universities of having condoned or failed to properly condemn antisemitism on campus.
Rep. Ralph Norman and 26 other GOP legislators criticized “the rise in antisemitic statements and pro-Hamas protests” at the five elite universities, expressing “profound disappointment in administrators for their half-hearted, hypocritical, or absent responses.”
The letters were addressed to the presidents of Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia University, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania.
IMAGE: Congressman Jim Banks/Facebook