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Foxx: Harvard, Penn and MIT presidents to testify next week

BY: BIANCA QUILANTAN | 11/28/2023 12:31 PM EST

The leaders of three high-profile institutions will testify next week before the House Education and Workforce committee on their response to antisemitism on campus.

Harvard University President Claudine Gay, along with University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth, are scheduled to participate in the full committee hearing entitled “Holding campus leaders accountable and confronting antisemitism” on Dec. 5 at 10:15 a.m.

Each of the college presidents have come under scrutiny for their responses to demonstrations that have rocked campuses across the country after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel. And each of the leaders has announced efforts to combat antisemitism and other forms of discrimination on campus.

“Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen countless examples of antisemitic demonstrations on college campuses,” House Education and Workforce Chair Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said in a statement. “Meanwhile, college administrators have largely stood by, allowing horrific rhetoric to fester and grow.”

Harvard: The university has arguably faced the most widely-reported blowback over what critics say was a tepid response to the demonstrations and the attacks. Several high-profile alumni and former leadership, including former Harvard President Larry Summers and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), have blasted Harvard’s slow response to condemn the attacks and antisemitism.

Harvard alumni on the committee include: Stefanik, Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Kevin Kiley (R-Calif.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.) and Kathy Manning (D-N.C.).

Penn: Magill will also be testifying as her campus is being investigated by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights. The complaint against Penn alleges that the school has created a “hostile environment for its Jewish students.” And while Penn has responded to security threats, some Jewish groups have argued that Magill has not “condemned the rallies or professors’ antisemitic statements.” The Brandeis Center called Magill’s statements “inadequate” and urged the Education Department to investigate whether the school is violating civil rights law and “nurturing a hostile environment toward Jewish students.”

On the committee, Rep. Brandon Williams (R-N.Y.) is a Penn grad. Earlier this month, he tweeted: “My message to university presidents: If you allow antisemitism to remain on your campus, you are my enemy.”

MIT: The institution has had combative demonstrations on campus, including one that went viral that shows pro-Palestinian student protesters being pushed. The school’s response has been criticized, and some students have been suspended.

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