Northwestern University President’s Statement about BDS

While I may personally have strong misgivings about this resolution, I think it’s important to remember that the 24 senators who voted for this are elected representatives of our students.  To simply condemn them for their vote would be wrong, regardless of how any of us feel about the issue.  There is also some distinction between this vote and the classic BDS set of resolutions.  As a long-time member of Hillel’s International Board, I have, alas, become very well acquainted with the subject over the past decade.


You might also want to check our web page ( for the story from this past April about how I led a delegation of NU leaders – our deans of the law school, medical school, business school, Medill and many others, twenty one in all – to Israel last year to sign a sister agreement with Tel Aviv University.  I am unaware of any other university in the world who visited Israel in recent years to pledge an increase in research and teaching efforts there.  I think that says something about how we view the BDS movement.  I really do think that in this case it is actions that matter most, not resolutions and statements.


As our statement notes, the resolution will go to the Board of Trustees Investment Committee. While I cannot speak for the trustees as it will be their decision, I am confident that they will consider carefully the many potential impacts of taking the action that the student senate passed, both in regard to this particular issue and similar requests that might occur in the future.


In the meantime, I want to assure you that I will do everything that is in my power to ensure that Northwestern remains a welcoming and safe place for Jewish students, just as it is for students of all faiths. Northwestern is a place where discourse and debate are not just expected, but encouraged. It is also our clearly stated expectation that those discussions will continue to occur, as they have been among our students, in a manner that is respectful to all members of our community.


Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and for your interest in, and support of, Northwestern.




Morton Schapiro

President and Professor