Watch CBS News

Rutgers University president grilled on negotiations with student protesters. Here's what he told lawmakers.

N.J. lawmakers question Rutgers University president about protest negotiations
N.J. lawmakers question Rutgers University president about protest negotiations 02:09

TRENTON, N.J. -- Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway faced questions from New Jersey lawmakers at a state budget hearing Thursday regarding pro-Palestinian protests on campus.

Holloway has come under fire for negotiating with student protesters to clear out tent encampments on the New Brunswick campus as finals got underway last week.

Rutgers University president negotiated with protesters "to protect safety of students," he says

CBS New York's Christine Sloan spoke to Holloway after the hearing.

"I think all of our students are safe. I think with the Jewish students in particular, they have incredible resources available to them," he said.

"You've been praised and you've been criticized for negotiating with the protesters. Can you tell us why you did it?" Sloan asked.

"I was operating from the standpoint of safety, that's the first operating principle. Trying to protect the safety of the students, the integrity of the physical plant as we've seen other campuses really fall apart in that space," Holloway said.

Holloway pointed out the university didn't agree to divest from Israeli companies or to sever ties with Tel Aviv University, saying he hasn't set a bad precedent.

"We'll deal with the situation in front of us, and for the future situations, we'll deal with it as they come," he said.

Holloway says the university agreed to an Arab Cultural Center that could cost thousands of dollars and the creation of a Middle Eastern studies department that will include lessons on Israel and Arab countries. The school also said they would work with a committee to implement support for displaced Gazan students to study at Rutgers on scholarship.

N.J. lawmakers question safety for Jewish students at Rutgers University

Holloway was grilled by lawmakers on the deal his administration made with pro-Palestinian student protesters and the safety of Jewish students on campus.  

"Hatred and bigotry have no place at Rutgers," Holloway said.

One lawmaker said he's gotten dozens of calls from concerned Jewish parents at the New Brunswick and Newark campuses.

"Jewish students are fearful to attend the [Rutgers] University of Newark. That is obviously unacceptable," Assemblyman Gary S. Schaer said.

"It is clear that we have work to do at the university," Holloway said.

Lawmakers say the state gave Rutgers over $470 million last year, and there's an obligation to protect all students, including the more than two dozen Jewish students who showed up at the hearing.

"That's a taxpayer school. It's not a private school. They owe the taxpayers a certain behavior and a certain protection for students who go there," Assemblyman Gerry Scharfenberger told CBS New York.

Holloway also appeared before a Senate committee. When asked if professors who engage in antisemitism should be dealt with, he said that's a more complicated situation.

Holloway is set to testify before Congress on May 23.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.