Harvard, MIT, Penn presidents blasted after Capitol Hill testimony: ‘Resign’ - Hindustan Times
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Harvard, MIT, Penn presidents blasted after Capitol Hill testimony, ‘Resign immediately’

BySumanti Sen
Dec 06, 2023 01:51 PM IST

The presidents were grilled for several hours, and were asked questions about their disciplinary actions toward students involved in anti-Semitic acts

The presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are under fire for their remarks during a recent testimony. The three presidents testified Tuesday, December 5, on Capitol Hill about increasing concerns of anti-Semitism on their campuses. Several colleges across the US have witnessed rising hate amid the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Dr. Claudine Gay, President of Harvard University, Liz Magill, President of University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Sally Kornbluth, President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, testify before the House Education and Workforce Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building on December 05, 2023 in Washington, DC (Photo by Kevin Dietsch / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)(Getty Images via AFP)
Dr. Claudine Gay, President of Harvard University, Liz Magill, President of University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Sally Kornbluth, President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, testify before the House Education and Workforce Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building on December 05, 2023 in Washington, DC (Photo by Kevin Dietsch / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)(Getty Images via AFP)

The hearing was titled ‘Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism' on Tuesday, December 5, was attended by Claudine Gay of Harvard, Elizabeth Magill of Penn and Sally Kornbluth of MIT. The trio was questioned by the Republican-led House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

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The presidents were grilled for several hours, and were asked questions about their disciplinary actions toward students involved in anti-Semitic acts. They were also asked how their hiring practices made sure their faculty represent diverse viewpoints, and what measures they are taking to ensure safety on campus.

Out of everything they said, they have been especially criticised for their approach towards a question on whether “calling for the genocide of Jews” is against the universities’ respective codes of conduct. When New York Republican Representative Elise Stefanik asked this question, all three presidents claimed the answer depends on the context.

“It is a context-dependent decision,” said Magill, to which Stefanik replied, “Calling for the genocide of Jews is dependent on the context? That is not bullying or harassment? This is the easiest question to answer ‘yes,’ Ms. Magill.”

Gay responded to the same question, saying, “When speech crosses into conduct, we take action.”

Kornbluth said that such language would be “investigated as harassment if pervasive and severe.”

‘They must all resign in disgrace’

The trio is now being widely criticised on social media. Among those who blasted them is Bill Ackman, who said the presidents “must all resign in disgrace.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik wrote on X, “At today’s hearing, Harvard’s President shamefully refused to say whether the calling for the mass violence and genocide of the Jewish people is considered harassment or bullying according to Harvard’s own code of conduct. Claudine Gay should resign immediately.”

“I questioned college presidents from Harvard, UPenn, and MIT about the disturbing rise of antisemitism on college campuses across America as a result of Oct 7. Guess what happened when I asked what they were doing on campus to address antisemitism? I got SILENCE,” wrote Rep. John James.

Journalist Trisha Posner said, “Want to know why #antisemitism is flourishing on American college campuses? Watch this jaw-dropping moment from today’s congressional hearing as @RepJames is met by SILENCE from the presidents of Harvard, MIT and UPenn when he asks what they are doing to fight anti-Jewish hatred”.

Educator & Author Ben M. Freeman wrote, “Do not attend Harvard, MIT & Penn as new students. Do not donate to them. We have to have some self respect. We are not paying these institutions to abuse and endanger our youth.”

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