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In House Hearing, Republicans Demand Discipline for Student Protesters

House Republicans used words like “violence,” “hijacking” and “chaos.” They asked the university leaders why so few protesters had been suspended. They showed videos and wielded a document with a bright red “F” grade.

The leaders of Northwestern, Rutgers and the University of California, Los Angeles, responded with phrases like “due process,” “appropriate penalties” and “task force.”

At the third congressional hearing with college presidents on Thursday, Republicans sharply questioned them about the pro-Palestinian encampments that student protesters have pitched on their campuses and campuses across the country in response to the Israel-Hamas war.

But the university leaders seemed to draw lessons from previous hearings, and sought to avoid enraging either the Republicans on the committee or members of their own institutions. They acknowledged some missteps and promised to do more to combat antisemitism, while also pushing back against some of the accusations leveled against them.

The result was something of a culture clash, with the Republicans acting like prosecutors, demanding yes or no answers from the witnesses, as they tried to elicit the sort of damaging moment that helped to topple the presidents of Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, challenged Michael Schill, president of Northwestern University.Credit…Shuran Huang for The New York Times

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