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For years, Marvin and Eva Schlanger funded educational institutions and other organizations, including WHYY, through their nonprofit, the Eva and Marvin Schlanger Family Foundation.
Over the last decade, the foundation has given more than $130,000 to Rutgers alone, according to tax filings.
But as of Wednesday, the couple decided to withhold their contributions to New Jersey’s flagship public university, citing the university’s lack of response to antisemitism on campus.
The Schlangers earned their undergraduate and graduate degrees at public schools; Rutgers University and the University of Massachusetts, respectively.
“Eva and I are very proud of the fact that we got our total education in the public schools,” Marvin Schlanger said. “We were concerned that the administration did not do everything they could to defend a particular Jewish student on campus that needed due process.”
Schlanger was referring to Yoel Ackerman, a first year student at Rutgers School of Law-Newark. According to Jewish Link, Ackerman is accused of “defaming” a Palestinian student who shared an Instagram video about the Israel-Hamas war with the Student Bar Association.
Ackerman told the media outlet that the video contained misinformation and accused Israel of staging the Oct. 7 attack and claimed that Hamas was not responsible for the more than 1,400 Israelis killed that day.
Schlanger doesn’t know Ackerman and has not reached out to him, but said he has followed the situation online. He said it looked like Ackerman was singled out because he was Jewish and called the administrative process used to remove Ackerman from the Student Bar Association “a kangaroo court.”
“He did not get due process in that action and the administration has not responded to complaints about the lack of due process,” Schlanger said.
WHYY News reached out to Ackerman’s lawyer, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
Rutgers spokeswoman Dory Devlin said the university is conducting an inquiry into the Newark chapter of the Student Bar Association following two student complaints.
The bar association was temporarily suspended, then reinstated, as the Rutgers-Newark Division of Student Affairs continued its investigation.
“When the university receives these types of complaints, an inquiry is conducted in accordance with university policy,” Devlin said. “During a pending inquiry, activities of a student organization may be suspended on an interim basis.”
Schlanger looked at the wave of big money donors that have stopped giving to educational institutions as “a pretty good model” to get the attention of Rutgers officials.
Rutgers joins a growing number of academic institutions, who are experiencing donor exits and funding losses since the Israel-Hamas conflict began.
In October, The University of Pennsylvania suffered a ‘mega donor revolt’, which included former U.S. Ambassador and longtime Penn donor Jon Huntsman, citing the school’s response to the Israel-Hamas war and concerns about antisemitism on campus.
Following pressure from the donor community, University President Liz Magil announced a university-wide plan to combat antisemitism.
Several donors, including the Wexner Foundation have also severed ties with Harvard University.
Schlanger said they wanted to send a message to the Rutgers donor community that they have concerns and are taking action. So far, he has not heard back from the university.
Schlanger said they support everyone’s right to express themselves, but no one has the right to intimidate or threaten someone.
“Obviously, we’re concerned about all students on campus,” Schlanger said. “All students should be protected. We want to make sure all students are protected and feel safe and get the due process they’re entitled to, but this particular issue is related to a Jewish student.”
Devlin at Rutgers University, responding to the decision by Schlanger’s foundation to suspend donations, said “The university understands that donors make personal decisions about their support of the university, but we believe that it would be inappropriate to comment on those individual decisions.”