December 7th, 2023
By Ryan King
House GOP lawmakers announced Thursday they were opening a formal investigation into multiple universities over their handling of antisemitism on campus.
On Tuesday, members of the House Education and Workforce Committee grilled the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania over their lack of action in response to a wave of violent anti-Jewish demonstrations that have swept their institutions following the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack on Israel.
“After this week’s pathetic and morally bankrupt testimony by university presidents when answering my questions, the Education and Workforce Committee is launching an official Congressional investigation with the full force of subpoena power into Penn, MIT, & Harvard and others,” House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) said in a statement.
“We will use our full Congressional authority to hold these schools accountable for their failure on the global stage.”
The investigation will look at “the learning environments” and “disciplinary procedures” at those institutions, according to Education and Workforce Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC).
“Committee members have deep concerns with their leadership and their failure to take steps to provide Jewish students the safe learning environment they are due under law,” Foxx said.
Universities in the committee’s crosshairs signaled their intention to cooperate with the investigation.
“Penn is aware of the investigation and will cooperate fully,” a University of Pennsylvania spokesperson told The Post.
The schools could be stripped of federal funding if they are found to be in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in programs or activities receiving government money.
Stefanik took center stage during Tuesday’s hearing thanks to her exchange with Harvard University president Dr. Claudine Gay, who was evasive about whether calling for an ‘intifada” violated the Ivy League school’s code of conduct.
The upstate lawmaker explained that “’intifada’ in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict is indeed a call for violent armed resistance against the state of Israel, including violence against civilians and the genocide of Jews.”
“That type of hateful speech is personally abhorrent to me,” Gay responded, repeatedly sidestepping the code of conduct question. “It is at odds with the values of Harvard.”
University of Pennsylvania president Liz McGill also drew flack following her exchange with Stefanik, who asked her whether “calling for the genocide of Jews [constitutes] bullying or harassment?”
“If it is directed and severe, pervasive, it is harassment,” McGill responded. “It is a context-dependent decision.”
McGill later issued an apology Wednesday evening, and clarifying that “a call for genocide of Jewish people is threatening, deeply so.”
Stefanik has demanded the presidents of all three schools be fired following their appearances.
On Wednesday, the White House piled on.
“It’s unbelievable that this needs to be said: calls for genocide are monstrous and antithetical to everything we represent as a country,” Andrew Bates, White House senior communications adviser and deputy press secretary, said in a statement.
The congressional probe is intended to examine how “deep this enabling of antisemitism goes,” according to House Republicans.
“The disgusting targeting and harassment of Jewish students is not limited to these institutions,” Foxx said, “and other universities should expect investigations as well, as their litany of similar failures has not gone unnoticed.”