Arizona State University dismisses scholar after video shows him verbally attacking a woman in a hijab

A video showing a confrontation between a man and a woman wearing a hijab during a pro-Israel rally at Arizona State University is further highlighting the roiling tensions on college campuses across the US over the Israel-Hamas war and a steep increase in reported antisemitic and anti-Muslim incidents. Here are the latest developments:

Arizona State University investigation: A scholar at ASU’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership will not return to teach at the university after a video under investigation by university officials shows him confronting and cursing at a woman wearing a hijab during a pro-Israel rally on campus, ASU announced Thursday. “He is no longer permitted to be on campus and will never teach here again,” ASU President Michael Crow said in a statement to CNN regarding Jonathan Yudelman, who the university had placed on leave following the May 5 incident.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology protesters arrested: At least nine pro-Palestinian student protesters were arrested Thursday afternoon on MIT’s campus, according to Francesca Riccio-Ackerman, a spokesperson for MIT Scientists Against Genocide Encampment. This marks the first time demonstrators have been detained on MIT’s campus in connection to the pro-Palestine protests, according to the group. Videos provided to CNN by the Boston Party for Socialism and Liberation show protesters being detained and hauled out of the crowd. In another video, a protester can be seen being thrown on the ground by an officer attempting to remove people from the entrance to the garage. MIT on Monday ordered demonstrators to peacefully clear an encampment or face disciplinary action after efforts to reach an agreement broke down. By Wednesday, 23 students were suspended, with some receiving eviction notices from MIT, according to Riccio-Ackerman. CNN has reached out to MIT for comment on the suspensions and eviction notices.

More than 800 UCLA faculty and staff call for chancellor’s resignation: Hundreds of University of California Los Angeles faculty and staff signed a letter calling for the immediate resignation of Chancellor Gene Block, saying those involved in recent protests on campus have been “wronged” by the school’s administration, the group announced Thursday. The group is calling for “legal and academic amnesty” for students, faculty and staff who were arrested during protests on campus, Matt Barreto, a professor of Chicano studies and political science, said at a Thursday news conference. CNN has reached out to Block for comment. The letter also calls for a vote of no confidence from the UCLA academic senate and the union representing librarians and non-senate faculty throughout the University of California system. “We condemn the UCLA administration for enabling a terrorizing Zionist attack and orchestrating a violent police offensive against its students,” said a member of a group of medics who provided medical support to protesters during demonstrations.

Pennsylvania governor calls for UPenn to disband encampment: The University of Pennsylvania needs to disband the growing pro-Palestinian protest encampment on its campus that “has gotten even more unstable and out of control,” Gov. Josh Shapiro said Thursday. “It is past time for the university to act, to address this, to disband the encampment and to restore order and safety on campus,” Shapiro said at an unrelated event. After a third round of negotiations did not result in an agreement on Tuesday, protesters set up more tents in the center of UPenn’s College Green Wednesday evening. The university confirmed to CNN on Thursday that it issued “mandatory temporary leaves of absence for six students” involved with the encampment. The students were informed they “may not enter academic buildings, be present on campus and participate in university programming – including classes and graduation-related events,” according to a statement posted to the protesters’ “UP Against the Occupation” Instagram account.

No criminal charges for The New School protesters: The New School university in New York won’t pursue criminal charges against student protestors who were arrested on May 3, and the university has asked the district attorney to drop all charges, according to interim president Donna E. Shalala. She called the recent events on campus “difficult and upsetting” in a message to the university community, adding “there are many things that we will want to work on together in the days ahead.” The university is working to expedite conduct reviews for student protestors, according to Shalala, and also expects to soon announce “a significant educational effort about investment principles and the history of divestment at The New School.”

University of Southern California officials censured: USC’s Academic Senate voted 21-7 Wednesday to censure the university’s president and provost over their recent decisions to remove pro-Palestinian protesters from campus and change graduation plans, according to the student-led USC Annenberg Media. The resolution calls for a task force to investigate administrative decisions and provide a public report.

Hundreds of Columbia University students sign letter addressing tension on campus: The letter, titled “In Our Name: A Message from Jewish Students at Columbia University,” calls out reported antisemitic incidents on campus that have “forced us into our activism and forced us to publicly defend our Jewish identities.” Columbia has been the focal point of pro-Palestinian demonstrations on college campuses and more than 100 people were arrested last week after barricading themselves in the university’s Hamilton Hall.

Emory undergraduate students vote no-confidence in school president: A little more than 40% of undergraduates at the university participated in the vote against university president Gregory L. Fenves, the Emory Student Government Association said, with 73% voting in favor of the referendum. The vote came less than a week after Emory’s College of Arts and Sciences faculty senate overwhelmingly approved a vote of no confidence against Fenves. The votes are a symbolic condemnation of the university’s choice to call in outside law enforcement officers who arrested students and faculty during a pro-Palestinian protest on campus on April 25. The vote results may now go to the Board of Trustees, who would have the discretion to remove Fenves. “While we take any concerns expressed by members of our community seriously, Emory community members are sharing a wide range of perspectives that are not reflected in the motion passed by SGA,” Emory spokesperson Laura Diamond told CNN.

Dozens arrested at George Washington University: More than 30 protesters were arrested at or near George Washington University early Wednesday as the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, DC, worked to clear a pro-Palestinian encampment on campus, officials said. Encampments were also cleared in recent days at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

House lawmakers question liberal cities’ school officials over antisemitism: School officials from New York City; Berkeley, California; and Montgomery County, Maryland, were questioned Wednesday over their response to alleged antisemitic incidents by members of the House Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education. The session marked the first such congressional hearing to focus on K-12 schools.

Video of now-ousted scholar prompts university investigation

The video that led to postdoctoral research scholar Jonathan Yudelman’s dismissal and sparked an investigation at Arizona State was recorded Sunday during a pro-Israel rally on the school’s campus in Tempe, according to CNN affiliate KPNX.

The 58-second video shows a postdoctoral research scholar, Jonathan Yudelman, continually moving toward a woman in a hijab as she tries to move away from him.

“You’re disrespecting my religious boundaries,” the woman can be heard saying. She has not been identified.

Yudelman replies, “You disrespect my sense of humanity, b-tch.”

It’s unclear what happened before and after the video was recorded, and CNN is working to confirm who recorded it. The clip has been posted to various pro-Palestinian social media channels.

The same day, Yudelman was interviewed by a KPNX news crew covering the rally.

“It was important to come out and make a statement for the community,” Yudelman told the outlet. “I see what’s going on all across the country – campuses being taken over by supporters of terrorism and Jewish students being intimidated.” It’s unclear if Yudelman made this statement before or after the confrontation with the woman.

Arizona State is aware of the allegations against Yudelman and is investigating, a university spokesperson told CNN. The Tempe Police Department is also aware of the incident and is investigating, the department told CNN.

Yudelman did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

The Arizona chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned Yudelman’s behavior in the video as “disgusting” and “dangerous” in a statement on Tuesday and called for ASU officials to terminate his employment if the allegations against him are verified.

Before the altercation, Yudelman had submitted his resignation from ASU, which was set to take effect on June 30, ASU said in a news release on Wednesday.

USC president and provost censured

The resolution to censure the University of Southern California’s president and provost says there is “widespread dissatisfaction and concern among the faculty about administrative decisions and communication” related to the removal of pro-Palestinian protesters from campus and changes to graduation plans.

The censure of USC President Carol Folt and Provost Andrew Guzman passed in the university’s Academic Senate “after a chaotic three-hour session Wednesday afternoon,” the USC Annenberg Media reported.

The resolution calls for “the immediate creation of a task force to investigate these events and the associated administrative decisions and communication, and to provide a public report of its findings by September 15, 2024; and calls on the President of the University to cooperate fully with the task force’s investigation.”

The vote to censure comes after the university announced last month it canceled valedictorian Asna Tabassum’s commencement speech over security concerns.

“The intensity of feelings, fueled by both social media and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, has grown to include many voices outside of USC and has escalated to the point of creating substantial risks relating to security and disruption at commencement,” the university said.

Tabassum, a first-generation South Asian American Muslim, said she was “shocked” and “profoundly disappointed” in the decision.

As pro-Palestinian demonstrations on the campus escalated, the school’s main stage commencement ceremony was canceled and the Los Angeles Police Department has helped campus police clear encampments on the campus.

‘We would like to speak in our name’

More than 500 Columbia students have so far signed the “In Our Name” letter, which was shared online by Columbia assistant professor Shai Davidai and many others, including Eden Yadegar, president of Students Supporting Israel at Columbia University.

The letter says they are “average students,” most of whom “did not choose to be political activists.”

“We do not bang on drums and chant catchy slogans. We are average students, just trying to make it through finals much like the rest of you,” the letter says. “Those who demonize us under the cloak of anti-Zionism forced us into our activism and forced us to publicly defend our Jewish identities.”

In the letter, students express their pride in Israel and the diverse voices coming from the Jewish people.

“Our love for Israel does not necessitate blind political conformity. It’s quite the opposite,” according to the letter. “All it takes are a couple of coffee chats with us to realize that our visions for Israel differ dramatically from one another. Yet we all come from a place of love and an aspiration for a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

The letter also calls out reported antisemitic incidents on campus in recent months.

“Students at Columbia have chanted ‘we don’t want no Zionists here,’ alongside ‘death to the Zionist State’ and to ‘go back to Poland,’ where our relatives lie in mass graves,” according to the letter.

“One thing is for sure. We will not stop standing up for ourselves. We are proud to be Jews, and we are proud to be Zionists,” the letter says before ending on a hopeful note.

“While campus may be riddled with hateful rhetoric and simplistic binaries now, it is never too late to start repairing the fractures and begin developing meaningful relationships across political and religious divides,” the letter says. “Our tradition tells us, ‘Love peace and pursue peace.’ We hope you will join us in earnestly pursuing peace, truth, and empathy. Together we can repair our campus.”

CNN’s Rob Frehse, Melissa Alonso, Jillian Sykes, Nick Valencia, Jade Gordon, Devon Sayers, Cindy Von Quednow, Cheri Mossburg, Joe Sutton, Danny Freeman, Isabel Rosales, Taylor Galgano, Sharif Paget, Rob Frehse and Zenebou Sylla contributed to this report.

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