Renowned psychology professor Lara Sheehi finds herself at the center of a storm of controversy, as Loyola University Chicago takes the unprecedented step of canceling her scheduled talk.
The move comes in the wake of serious allegations of anti-Semitism and discrimination against Jewish and Israeli students, filed by pro-Israel advocacy group StandWithUs with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
Who is Lara Sheehi?
Sheehi’s alleged transgressions span a spectrum of concerning behavior. The complaint outlines instances where Sheehi, serving as the president of the Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology (SPPP), purportedly denigrated Jewish students, questioning their Israeli identity and subjecting them to baseless disciplinary proceedings. This unsettling conduct reportedly occurred during a mandatory diversity course she taught at George Washington University.
Beyond her role at Loyola, Sheehi’s influence extends to her positions on various boards, including the advisory board of the USA Palestine Mental Health Network. Her activism, evident in tweets supporting terrorists and endorsing the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, raises questions about the appropriateness of such affiliations for an academic professional.
Sheehi’s notoriety is further heightened by her extensive academic background and achievements. Having received her doctorate in clinical psychology from George Washington University in 2010, she co-authored the book “Psychoanalysis Under Occupation: Practicing Resistance in Palestine,” published in 2022. Her positions on editorial boards and involvement in multiple organizations demonstrate a prominent and influential presence within the academic community.
The cancellation of Sheehi’s talk underscores the growing scrutiny surrounding academic figures with controversial political views. Loyola’s decision reflects the delicate balance universities must strike between upholding academic freedom and maintaining an environment that fosters inclusivity and respect for all students.