Harvard, Penn, MIT face formal rebuke for campus antisemitism following House resolution approval

The House approved a bipartisan resolution on Wednesday condemning the contentious congressional testimony given by three prominent university presidents regarding their handling of the alarming increase in antisemitism on college campuses. The resolution was introduced by Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., and two centrist Jewish Democrats, Reps. Jared Moskowitz of Florida and Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey. It passed with a vote of 303-126.

Not all members agreed with the rebuke, however. Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin, along with other Jewish Democrats, voted against the resolution and criticized their Republican colleagues for what they considered a political stunt. Raskin argued that the resolution was irrational because Sally Kornbluth, the president of MIT, is Jewish.

“This cannibalistic instinct they’ve unleashed now turns on private citizens, academic leaders, who will wear the scarlet letter A so they can have some more press conferences,” Raskin stated from the House floor, referring to Republicans.

One significant outcome of the presidents’ testimony was the removal of Liz Magill from her position as the president of Penn. This occurred after Stefanik’s viral line of questioning to the presidents of Harvard, Penn, and MIT. Medical school dean J. Larry Jameson was appointed interim president at Penn following Magill’s ouster. Claudine Gay of Harvard and Kornbluth of MIT, on the other hand, managed to retain their positions with alumni and trustee support.

During the questioning, Stefanik, a Harvard graduate, asked the presidents whether endorsing the genocide of Jews would violate their university policies. Their cautious responses drew immediate scrutiny. “It is a context-dependent decision,” Magill stated. Gay and Kornbluth similarly responded that the situation would depend on the context, although all three presidents explicitly denounced antisemitism and Islamophobia during the hearing.

Following the backlash to that moment, the GOP-led education committee in the House initiated a formal investigation into how the universities have been addressing the rise in antisemitism on their campuses since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas war in October. Over 70 lawmakers from both parties signed a letter, also led by Stefanik, calling for the resignations of the presidents. The resolution passed on Wednesday refers to Magill’s resignation and suggests that the other presidents should follow suit.

“Those university presidents made history by putting the most morally bankrupt testimony into the congressional record, and the world saw it,” remarked Stefanik during a news conference.

In response to the presidents’ testimony, Magill resigned, as did Penn’s board of trustees chair, Scott Bok. According to Bok, Magill was “not herself” during the hearing and had been worn down by months of external attacks. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., the chairwoman of the House education committee, also announced a new resource for students and faculty to report incidents of antisemitic harassment.

The student-led editorial board at the Harvard Crimson criticized what they viewed as political interference disguised as a solution to antisemitism. They argued that while the hearing claimed to address students’ safety, it was actually an opportunity for opportunistic politicians to attack higher education.

Contributing: Eduardo Cuevas, USA TODAY

Other articles

Post Image
Education
Will Fifth Attempt Finally Pass Sex Ed Law?

The state updated its sex education guidelines last year for students from pre-K …

Read More
Post Image
Education
Ohio State study finds that emphasizing test scores may increase the risk of violence for teachers

A recent study conducted by academic researchers at Ohio State University discov …

Read More
Education
Accusations of Call Deflection and Mismanagement Leveled Against Major Student Loan Company MOHELA

Two prominent educational organizations, the American Federation of Teachers and …

Read More