LISTEN: Jewish Northwestern Students Have “No Confidence” in Leadership to Prioritize Their Safety

Today on the Guy Benson Show, Guy was joined by a group of Northwestern students, Susan Radov, Josh Sukoff, and Nicole Feldman, live in-studio to discuss the latest on antisemitism on the Northwestern campus. After negotiating with protestors who were occupying the Northwestern campus, many are now calling for Northwestern President Michael Schill to resign.  The students share their experiences as they face antisemitism on their college campus, as all three students say that they feel ‘physically unsafe’. Listen to the full interview below!

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Guy Benson: Well, if you are watching on the live stream earlier, you might have noticed a sartorial choice of mine. I’m wearing a purple northwestern pullover today in studio. And that was a deliberate selection on my part, because we’re about to talk to some fellow Wildcats, current students that I have here in studio about some things that they’ve experienced over the last, really 6 or 7 months, but particularly the last few weeks on campus. We’ve covered it here. I’ve tweeted just a prodigious amount about the issue at northwestern and elsewhere, frankly. But the reason I’m wearing the northwestern shirt today is because I want to underscore at the outset of our conversation, this is a school that I genuinely love. And care about. I’m not an angry, cranky, bitter alum who’s like, burn the place down. It’s not the way it used to be. It’s too left wing. That’s a certain type of alum. And they might not be totally wrong on certain points, but I bleed purple. I’m a season ticket holder. Football and basketball. I care about the place. So when I criticize northwestern, it’s not from a place of let’s ruin my alma mater because they deserve it. It’s this shouldn’t happen. We should be better. We are better. That’s the context of the conversation I’m very excited to have with three students sitting right here in studio with me. Susan Rate of is a Kellogg student. That’s the business school. So pursuing an MBA really prestigious program and the business school, I was not a Kellogg student, to be clear. And then we have two undergrads as well. Josh Sukova, who is from New York. He’s a medill sophomore. That’s the journalism school, and Nicole Feldman of Florida. She’s a journalism and econ double major. It is so good to see you guys all here. Thanks for coming in.

Susan Radov: Thank you for having us. Yeah.

Guy Benson: Thank you. So the reason that you’re here and not back in Evanston or in Chicago is because you had some meetings on Capitol Hill today. There have been various hearings in recent weeks that have not gone terribly well for certain administrators at other elite, quote unquote, schools. And there has been a committee looking into some of the anti-Semitic incidents that have been happening almost as a matter of course, across many of these campuses. Members of that committee wanted to hear from you guys. I’ve been talking to some of them privately as well, about what’s been happening at our school, northwestern. Susan, I’ll start with you. What did you share? You could talk about which members you spoke to or leave that off the record. Whatever you feel comfortable with. What did you share with elected representatives here in D.C. today? What did you feel like they needed to hear?

Susan Radov: Yeah, first, thanks again so much for having me. It’s an honor to be here. So I went to UPenn undergrad, and ever since the hearing with MIT, Harvard and Penn, I told myself, oh, it’s okay. It’s a Penn problem. It’s not going to happen at northwestern. It can’t come out from the East Coast into Evanston. And I’ve been shocked and quite horrified at what I’ve seen. Before this, I worked in D.C., and I did defense consulting at the Pentagon, and I was very intimidated and surprised that I felt intimidated by 18 to 22 year olds, that had Hamas pictures on their sweatshirts and on their shirts. People were wearing coffees, which totally fine to do. I might ideologically disagree, but that’s okay. But when it’s fully wrapped around your face and it looks like trying to mirror a terrorist, it’s quite terrifying. Seeing pictures of our president who’s Jewish with horns, classic anti-Semitic slur, saying in an, call out I heart genocide. And then walking out of Hillel during Passover, with five other Jewish friends. Again, as a 26 year old, who is used to being around, you know, big guys who are military training, and getting yelled at and harassed by 18 to 22 year olds, calling out Zionist pigs, saying Death to Jews. Being called an ugly bit. I mean, just horrid things that have clearly crossed from free speech to hate speech. And academic institutions have a right to allow all students to be heard, but they also have a right to keep us physically and psychologically safe. And I think that since the encampments went up, I’ve been robbed a little bit of my human dignity.

Guy Benson: I mean, some of those things are extremely difficult to hear. I think from a constitutional perspective, hate speech is protected free speech. But on campuses that have all sorts of rules about speech. That standard has never been applied to my knowledge, to any other harassment or intimidation of any other group. It just feels like there’s a big, giant asterisk when it comes to Jews. And it’s maybe not about the Jews, but it’s about your tormentors that they are unwilling to confront for whatever reason. I think there’s a lot of cowardice in the administration, not just at northwestern, but elsewhere as well. We’ll talk about President Schill and some others in a moment. Josh, you’ve documented some of this. You do a lot of photography for the school and as a journalist as well. Is there something that stands out in your mind, something that you maybe when you’re trying to fall asleep at night keeps you up a little bit? That’s particularly disturbing that you’ve experienced.

Josh Sukoff: Yeah. First, thank you for having me here. Something that’s particularly disturbing. We don’t know who’s on the campus. We don’t. I hope that most of them are students because they’re students, but they’re not. They’re community members. There are people coming from outside of Chicago, the South Side, all of these different areas to join in on this protest. And I don’t feel safe. I don’t with the lack of security. Physically, physically, physically. Physically safe. There’s a lack of security presence during these encampments. They hired an outside contractor at some point to bring in some, people wearing, vests that basically just said security. But it was it was a it was an open campus, and it still is an open campus. And when it comes just to my physical well-being, there are people who are able to come in to this campus and do whatever they want without getting in trouble, without getting in trouble. People spray painting death to Israel on donated buildings and no repercussions.

Guy Benson: There was a video that I saw of police officers trying to clear the encampment on day one. School said this will not be allowed. They put out a statement. This will not be allowed. Here are the rules. They sent some officers in. They were physically resisted by students, by outsiders and by faculty, some of them on camera. I saw a student journalist assaulted by one of them just for being there. Like they want to occupy land that isn’t theirs, while also doing so in in privacy or anonymously. I don’t understand this mindset, and yet we’re seeing it over and over again. Northwestern is a microcosm. It’s worse. Other places. That’s not an excuse for northwestern. What about you, Nicole? What have you experienced?

Nicole Feldman: Yeah, it’s been really difficult as an undergrad, especially because a lot of those people who are attending the protest sit next to us in class. It’s also during Meadows, right in the middle of campus. So we all have to walk through it to get to our classes. And I’ve heard chants like globalize the Intifada. Resistance is justified. Designers have got to go. And it’s made me feel really uncomfortable. And especially as a woman and, you know, feeling safe on campus. Yeah. I’ve seen, like, strangers getting out of their cars, to join the encampment. And it’s been difficult. I’ve had to, you know, call my dad on my walks home to make sure I get home safe, and. Yeah. And I think professors are also playing a role in this as well. I’ve had friends with professors moving classes to during battle where the encampment was taking place or sending emails saying, oh.

Guy Benson: Let me just focus on that for a second.

Nicole Feldman: Yeah.

Guy Benson: If you have professors or teaching assistants or what have you, literally moving class to the encampment. So if you’re a Jewish student who supports Israel, a Zionist, as they like to say. In order to attend class that day, you have to go to a hate rally against your identity and your beliefs. That’s like a requirement of attending class that day. And they can say, well, it’s it’s optional, but if you want to go to class, you have to do it at the hate rally. I don’t know how that’s not some sort of civil rights violation. I think that there are lawsuits brewing, is what I’ve heard. I’m curious. The counterpoint that you’ll get as well. Some things at the fringe might be anti-Semitic. I saw one sign hung up on the fencing by Deering. Just had a Star of David with a cross and a spray painted through it like an ax over the Star of David. I don’t know how you frame that as anything other than anti-Semitic, but they would say overall, this is really about Zionism and about the state of Israel. It’s not really about Jews. Look, we have some Jews here who agree with us. How do you respond to that, Susan? Because that is the playbook that’s being used over and over again.

Susan Radov: 100%. This is my favorite question to answer. So thank you for asking it. You cannot separate anti-Zionism from antisemitism because to me, as a Jew, Zionism means that we as Jewish people have the right to exist and to have our own state and to have a homeland. We all grew up with stories of our families fleeing programs in persecution, learning about the Holocaust. We need a safe space. I think. There is no better time. But now what is happening on campus to reaffirm that we need a safe space.

Guy Benson: And by the way, just to clarify, safe space culture has been ridiculed by a lot of conservatives as kind of like, you know, oh, snowflake stuff. Get over it. You’re talking about a physically safe country for Jews to not be annihilated in 100 years. The actual definition a meaningful definition of a safe space.

Susan Radov: Actual safe space, not safe space as defined by you can’t have civil discourse and disagreement with people, which I’m all for, and I’m all for sitting down and working with people across the aisle who have different ideologies, and being candid. But this is, anti-Semitic chanting that, I organized a Jewish solidarity stand on Sunday with 300 plus people Jewish undergrads, grad students, alumni, parents. And I went on social media after, and it was completely peaceful. They said that we were, anti-Zionist pigs and that we were confrontational. And it was a.

Guy Benson: Zionist aggression, I think, is what they called it, some librarian lunatic at the school. I looked at some of his ravings elsewhere. I mean, it’s remarkable that person is employed at northwestern. He’s not the only one. In fact, let’s turn to one of the ringleaders on the faculty is this guy Thrasher. He’s a medill professor, a journalism professor with some ludicrous title about what kind of journalism he teaches. It’s like something like he teaches diversity and equity in journalism, something like that. He has been not just at the forefront intellectually, if you can call it that, of this physically, physically, on camera, doing some of this resistance of police and that kind of thing. He also said at one of these hate rallies that. Journalism is not about objectivity. It’s about all these other things. And I wonder, budding journalists, Medill students, what you made of that, coming from one of your ostensibly esteemed professors at ostensibly the best journalism school in the country.

Josh Sukoff: You know, the first thing that that we learned is objectivity. The first thing we learned, and this is the first thing that we learn about when we’re reporting, and this is the first thing that Professor Thrasher is trying to get rid of during these protests, the way that he tries to throw it out the window and, kind of think without the facts is just really disheartening. And I really, I don’t know. I think that for, for for journalism, it just. We need to stick to the facts. We need to stick to knowledge and what we know. And this is the opposite. This is thinking how we feel.

Guy Benson: Yeah. And I think it’s just interesting. Here’s a professor, here’s a professor of journalism at this prestigious program that I graduated from. And it sort of makes me wonder how I feel sometimes about the degree given what’s happening. It wasn’t like this really quite as bad when I was there, but there was always certain strains of this. And to have him telling, he said, any journalism student or journalist within earshot. We don’t care about objectivity. Our job is not objectivity. And I think, number one, that’s wrong journalistically. And secondly, I think it’s almost about a mindset or a worldview of jettisoning objective truth itself. Because if you can say what Israel’s doing is a, quote, genocide to justify any sort of horrible behavior you’re going to pursue, that is the annihilation, that is the elimination of objective truth in order to make those kinds of claims upon which so much of this hate actually rests, they’re building it on a fundamental lie on top of a lot of bigotry. Let’s let’s face it to Nicole, I wonder how much of this in your mind, in your experience, has been ignorance. People getting caught up in a moment, people chanting from the river to the sea, not really knowing what that means. If they were woken up in the middle of the night from a deep sleep, they would have no idea which river or which sea they’re chanting about. It’s just kind of the thing to do, right? You have a bunch of leftists and they’re in deeply steeped in protest culture, especially since 2020. It’s kind of what people of a certain stripe do. And this is the latest example, how much of it is just kind of going along with the pack, which is not a defense, but I feel it’s less insidious, less evil than just being. A terrorism supporter or an anti-Semite or both. Do you have any sense of what that looks like on campus?

Nicole Feldman: Yeah. I would like to hope that a lot of it is ignorance. I think a lot of students feel like they have to pick a side, and that it’s the correct thing to do to stand against genocide. Of course, anyone would think that. But without looking at the facts, no. People come to these opinions because of what they see on social media, what they hear from professors, what they see at the encampment. And, you know, I just it’s difficult because a lot of people also don’t want to have conversations with us. And yeah, I guess I would hope a lot of it is ignorance.

Guy Benson: Let’s talk about the administration final topic here. They were in negotiations with the pro Hamas or Hamas, sympathetic, quote unquote, pro-Palestine encampment leaders, at least some of them. And they struck a deal to get rid of the encampment, at least for now, in exchange for all sorts of concessions and goodies and buildings and scholarships and endowed professorships and sort of the list goes on. It seems like the school is very proud of itself for de-escalating in a way that resulted in the tents going away on a bunch of promises without fully caving, I guess on divestment or what are the other ridiculous, I think antisemitic demands initially were, my concern as a thinking human being who can think rationally and critically is this seems to me to be an incentive for more of this in the future. When you’re not happy with something. Start pitching the tents and resisting the cops and making demands, and you’ll get at least something of what you want. I just wonder, Susan, what you think of the precedent being set here by the administration, which is patting itself on the back for negotiating a peaceful conclusion, at least for the moment at northwestern?

Susan Radov: Yeah, I think it sets a very dangerous precedent. And that’s what we’ve shared with all the Congress members we’ve met with today. I grew up in a household that really valued discourse and peaceful protest. This was not a peaceful protest. This was agitation. And I think the deal struck, the policies made without enforcement have set a dangerous precedent for students at other schools to be more combative and to take more aggressive measures in order to get what they want.

Guy Benson: Or for students at northwestern just to do it again, whether it’s this school year or next school year. It just seems inevitable that when you reward behavior, you get more of the behavior. I just don’t understand why this seems so difficult for people who are theoretically the smartest folks in the world, running a school like northwestern to step away from this and say, look at what we’ve done. Congratulations to us. It does seem, Josh, like a lot of the comrades of the Hamas crowd are very angry with their fellow students. And some of these are outside people as well, very angry that they cut the deal at all with the administration. They’re being called sellouts in the other direction, which is like kind of fun for schadenfreude, like pop the popcorn. But I worry that this is again setting a predicate for more in the future. Exactly. More of this stuff.

Josh Sukoff: Well, we’re already seeing it. If you’ve looked, people are planning to sleep on during meadow tonight without tents. They’re going to use sleeping bags. Or what other? What other ways to sleep on grass? Luckily, it’s really hot there. Luckily it’s a little humid, but the flags are still there. There’s even still some tents, and they’ve already started to. It’s. I’m not. I’m not too old to the point where I still remember if you give a mouse a cookie, that they gave them after the cookie, the administration gave, these demonstrators the cookie, and they’re asking for more. And it’s already started, and we still have another 4 to 6 weeks to deal with. I have to I have to live through protests until the end of my semester or my quarter. And it’s it’s unfortunate.

Guy Benson: And whatever is going to happen next year, and whether it’s Gaza or some other excuse or some new cause that they’re all fired up about. This is now a playbook that is proven successful to extract meaningful concessions from the northwestern administration. President shell, I think I have nothing against the guy personally. I met him briefly once. I think he’s handled almost all of this very badly from the beginning. I mean, you had people rallying for Hamas right after October 7th, before the dead were counted, before Israel started. Any response you saw at northwestern and elsewhere these pro Hamas rallies, basically to celebrate what happened and preemptively be against whatever the Jews might do to defend themselves. That’s what we’ve seen for months. There have been well documented examples across campus of harassment, intimidation, things that would never fly with any other group ever. And there’s been pressure. I mean, the school wouldn’t comment on on it for a while, like no denunciations. And then they did. Then they got blowback. And it just feels like this listless vessel floating along in Lake Michigan, hoping that it goes away. It’s not going to go away. There needs to be leadership, and I feel like the leadership has been severely lacking. I wonder, Nicole, when you talk to other pro-Israel students, you’re very involved in that community. Parents are angry. I talked to alums who are horrified. Members of the board I know are very upset. Do you get a sense that President Schell’s job might be in jeopardy? Especially if they drag him up to Congress at some point. I can’t imagine he’d have very good answers for them.

Nicole Feldman: Yeah, I do. I think we can all agree that the administration has not done enough to protect its Jewish students. I remember the first day when the encampment started. I think it was Thursday. I got an email saying that there’s not going to be any tents allowed. And I was like, Thank God, this isn’t going to happen here. Next thing I know, I was in a midterm and I came out of it and there is a whole encampment set up. I think the, police tried to, get involved, but they quickly left. And.

Guy Benson: They were overrun and outnumbered, and the school just didn’t bother to actually enforce. They drew a red line. Yeah. And then retreated from it.

Nicole Feldman: Yeah. And I think the lack of consequences is what led to the escalation of it. You know, I saw how other schools handled that, quickly when they saw it was starting. They, you know, said, this is against the rules. There are rules. And, you know, they those encampments didn’t end up happening. But yeah, I think the administration plays a huge role in this and. Yeah.

Guy Benson: Do you get a sense, Josh, because I’ve heard from some of your fellow current students, just people like reaching out to me on social media. Some of them are actively considering leaving, just transferring. Is that something that you’re hearing?

Josh Sukoff: That is definitely something that I’ve been hearing. I’ve had friends who are actively thinking, how am I going to live here for the next two years if they can’t get their act together now? And I mean, many of those friends don’t kind of see things improving in the short term, let alone long term, and are actively contemplating really seriously considering moving to schools that are not facing with this issue, schools that have administration that is really taking a stance and really defending its Jewish students and drawing the line somewhere and not just hiding. Not saying that there’s no more tents on Deering Meadow when there are still tents on Deering Meadow.


Guy Benson: Yeah, that’s like, spiking the football before a touchdown has been scored. And after an entire game of failure, I mean, that that’s sort of what we’re seeing from some of this, response from the administration. I wonder on the key point, Susan, of accountability. Do you have any confidence? This is what I’ve been trying to get answered from some of my sources. Do you have any confidence given this document? They came out like, you know, they had had some amazing meeting of the minds. And we now have this agreement in principle. Will there be any consequences for any of the students or faculty who are actually on camera engaged in physical assault?

Susan Radov: So I would look at past behavior. Talk is cheap. Action matters. They haven’t taken action so far. They haven’t enforced policy. So why would they do so now? No, I have no confidence.

Guy Benson: Do you believe that Congress should hold a hearing before the Education Committee like we’ve seen with MIT, Harvard, Penn? More recently, there was another school that didn’t go well for might have been Columbia action. It was Columbia before things got worse on that campus. So much worse even than we’ve seen at northwestern. Do you believe that President Schill and other key decision makers need to be subpoenaed and brought to the Hill and asked questions about the university’s response to this?

Susan Radov: I think leaders need to be held accountable. Why would we expect, as a budding business student, as budding journalists, to be held accountable in positions of leadership, if the presidents of elite universities are not? And I also think that students not only around the country, but around the world, need to hear how they are handling or lack thereof, this issue. I’ve had numerous prospective students from Kellogg reach out from Latin America, from Israel asking if it is safe to go on campus and people are actively deciding between northwestern and other schools.

Guy Benson: And so and this mob was harassing some of those students on campus recently, like going on and on and targeting Hillel, I believe, on that very same day, which is an extraordinary, I think, betrayal and clear violation of multiple rules, which the school admitted and said they’re investigating. There’s going to be consequences. Crickets still waiting on that investigation to be concluded and for any consequences to be handed down, if that’s ever going to happen. Josh, do you feel like this is worthy of congressional grilling of someone like President Schill? 100%? Because if the administration cannot hold these students accountable for the activities that have been going on on campus lately. Someone needs to be held accountable. And this lack of leadership. There’s no accountability. There really isn’t. No one’s getting punished. No one. The rules exist, and the rules are fake. The rules. No one’s. No one’s following them. No one’s getting. Well, some people would have to, right? Not everyone can get away with this. No. I think if you guys got together and broke every rule in the book, I can’t imagine that you would get away with it. But of course, you guys wouldn’t do a lot of this stuff. Hiding your faces, chanting about ethnic cleansing and genocide. That’s the other side of this debate, if you want to call it that. Which brings me to my last question, Nicole, for you. I know it’s been a struggle for a lot of students just with their friend groups, with their peers. This is what really gets to me as a as a non-Jewish person, but trying to empathize with you guys, you have now seen with your eyes and heard with your ears things that your classmates and in some cases, friends. Have said out loud, and I can imagine it’s probably hard to unhear some of that. I wonder if you’re going to be able to look at a lot of people the same way for the remainder of your academic career.

Nicole Feldman: Yeah, this is impacting everyone, Jewish or non-Jewish. I’ve had friendships terminated. Because I support Israel. And I also want to say, on the bright side, there have been like a lot of kind people who have reached out to me, both Jewish and non-Jewish, and have now also been scared about what’s going on at campuses. But yeah, it’s been difficult, especially being in class and, you know, hearing students talk about it. I think many of us can speak on many experiences we’ve had walking around campus. But yeah.

Guy Benson: Susan, Josh, Nicole, really grateful to you guys for speaking out, for coming to D.C., to going to the Hill, to talking to various representatives to come on this show. I know at least a few of you are going on another network later on with another northwestern alum, which is important. Your voices matter a lot. The other side gets a lot of attention and they’re very loud. They are not the majority, not at northwestern, certainly not in the United States. And so a lot of us have collectively your backs. And I think it’s important for you to hear that. And I know there’s a lot of people listening right now who agree. So thank you. Really appreciate you coming in. Go, cats.

Susan Radov: Go, cats. Thank you.