The presidents of Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the University of Pennsylvania are set to testify before Congress on Dec. 5, addressing the pressing issue of antisemitism on college campuses.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce will host the hearing, as announced on Tuesday, shedding light on the rise of antisemitic incidents on campuses across the nation. Chair Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., expressed concern about the apparent inaction of college administrators in the face of escalating rhetoric.
"Over the past several weeks, we've seen countless examples of antisemitic demonstrators on college campuses," Foxx said. "Meanwhile, college administrators have largely stood by, allowing horrific rhetoric to fester and grow."
The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has heightened accusations of antisemitism and Islamophobic rhetoric on college campuses. University leaders have faced criticism from various quarters, including students, alumni, faculty, and donors, for their responses to the conflict.
The Biden administration has initiated civil rights investigations into multiple universities, probing allegations of antisemitism or Islamophobia since the start of the conflict. Despite separate pledges from the universities to combat antisemitism, discriminatory acts and violence persist.
Foxx emphasized the responsibility of college and university presidents to ensure a "safe learning environment" and called for decisive action against antisemitism. The hearing, titled "Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism," will feature testimonies from Dr. Claudine Gay (Harvard), Liz Magill (University of Pennsylvania), and Dr. Sally Kornbluth (MIT).
During a prior House hearing, Republicans scrutinized campus diversity, equity, and inclusion offices, accusing them of purportedly neglecting support for Jewish students following the Middle East conflict.
The Department of Education launched a groundbreaking investigation into seven schools, including Cornell University, Columbia, and Penn, responding to complaints of antisemitism and Islamophobia, CNN reported.
Some donors, expressing dissatisfaction with the universities' handling of alleged antisemitic acts, have threatened to withhold financial support.
Private-equity billionaire Marc Rowan has spearheaded a campaign to remove Magill as the president of Penn, gaining support from notable alumni such as "Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf and former U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman. Hedge fund manager Leon Cooperman criticized students protesting against Israel, stating, "These kids in college have s**t for brains."
Israel's Minister of Economy and Industry, Nir Barkat, warned American universities of a "heavy price" if they fail to combat antisemitism.
In response to criticism, some universities, including Columbia and the University of Pennsylvania, have unveiled new measures to counter antisemitism.
Recently, Columbia announced the formation of a task force on antisemitism, describing it as an "ancient, but terribly resilient, form of hatred."
The University of Pennsylvania unveiled an antisemitism-fighting plan after hateful messages appeared on campus. Magill condemned antisemitic messages displayed on Penn's campus, labeling such actions as "cowardice."
Jim Thomas ✉
Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.
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