The president of Brown University cut criticism of anti-Semitism from a prepared speech Monday after pro-Palestinian students interrupted her, in the latest example of the leader of an elite university sparking controversy amid Israel's war against Hamas.
University president Christina Paxson spoke at a vigil for Hisham Awartani, a Palestinian student at Brown wounded in a shooting in Vermont last week, which authorities are investigating as a possible hate crime. Hecklers stopped her speech, calling for the school to cut off its investments in companies linked with Israel, National Review reported. Just after protesters cut her off, Paxson was supposed to say that "every student, faculty, and staff member should be able to proudly wear a Star of David or don a keffiyeh on the Brown campus, or to cover their head with a hijab or yarmulke," according to the prepared remarks on her office's website.
After she admonished the students for their interruption, however, Paxton delivered the line without the references to the Star of David and yarmulke, video shows.
"Let me tell you how I was gonna end this," she said, "which was—I was gonna say that at a faculty meeting last month, I said that 'every student, faculty, and staff member should be able to proudly don a keffiyeh on the Brown campus, or to cover their head with a hijab.'"
She then attempted to deliver a few lines later in the speech, claiming that "Brown is a strong and loving community" before the students cut her off, causing her to leave the stage.
A university spokesman told National Review that Paxson "abbreviated" her remarks hoping that she would be able to finish her speech.
"The remarks on the website are those prepared for delivery, as noted on that page," the spokesman said. "At the point students began to disrupt the remarks, President Paxson began to abbreviate them with the hope of being able to finish. It’s not unusual for there to be some deviation between remarks as prepared and remarks as delivered, and certainly that was the case here given the disruption."
Elite universities have come under fire for their responses to campus controversies in the wake of Hamas's Oct. 7 terror attacks on Israel. Prominent alumni of Harvard University, including Sen. Mitt Romney (R., Utah), lambasted its administrators in an October letter, citing "expressions of hate and vitriol against Jews" at the school.