December 13th, 2023
By Danielle Wallace
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on a bipartisan resolution Wednesday calling for the “immediate resignation” of Harvard President Claudine Gay and MIT President Sally Kornbluth after the boards of each respective institution decided to support the leaders despite their testimony about antisemitism on their campuses.
The resolution was announced on Tuesday hours after the fellows of the Harvard Corporation reaffirmed their support for Gay as the “right leader to help our community heal and to address the very serious societal issues we are facing” early Tuesday morning.
House Republican Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., as well as Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla., Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., afterward introduced a resolution condemning the testimony of Harvard, MIT and UPenn’s presidents and calling for “the immediate resignation of the remaining presidents at Harvard and MIT.”
Just two days after the hearing last week, MIT’s Executive Corporation had already pledged “full and unreserved support” for Kornbluth, issuing a statement that championed “her outstanding academic leadership, her judgment, her integrity, her moral compass, and her ability to unite our community around MIT’s core values.”
When the presidents of UPenn, Harvard and MIT were asked if calling for the genocide of Jews violates university policies on bullying and harassment, “Presidents Elizabeth Magill, Claudine Gay, and Sally Kornbluth were evasive and dismissive, failing to simply condemn such action,” the resolution says. Specifically, Magill stated, ‘‘It is a context-dependent decision”; Gay insisted that it ‘‘depends on the context”; and Kornbluth responded it would only constitute harassment if it were ‘‘targeted at individuals.”
“President Magill has resigned, and the other Presidents should follow suit,” the resolution, which will require support from two-thirds of the House to pass, says. “Acts of hate, intimidation, discrimination, and violence-based on ethnicity or religion have no place in our country or in the global community.” Under mounting pressure from donors, Magill resigned on Saturday, and MIT on Tuesday announced Dr. J. Larry Jameson, who was dean of the university’s medical school, will serve as the interim president of the university.
“This is not a partisan issue but a question of moral clarity which is why our colleagues from across the aisle have come together with us to introduce a resolution condemning antisemitism on university campuses as well as the morally bankrupt testimonies of the University Presidents from Harvard, Penn, and MIT during last week’s House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing,” Stefanik said in a statement Tuesday, announcing the resolution. “We are only just beginning to address the pervasive rot of antisemitism that has infected America’s higher education system and we will not stop until it is rooted out and those responsible for fostering its growth are held accountable. Antisemitism has no place in America.”
“These are Ivy League university presidents that were asked a softball question: ‘Does calling for the genocide of Jews count as harassment under their school’s policies?’ That’s not a trick question, and it’s infuriating that these leaders of young people would try to equivocate with some nonsense about ‘it depends on the context.’ Sub out Jews for any other persecuted minority group and they would never have given that answer. They failed the test, and just like their students there are no makeups,” Moskowitz said.
“When Chair Stefanik asked the presidents of MIT, Harvard, and University of Pennsylvania if calling for the genocide of Jews constituted harassment and violated their codes of conduct, we should have heard a simple and resounding ‘yes.’ This was not a hard question – in fact, it was probably the easiest question they could have answered. The abject failure of these presidents to defend even the most basic of human rights – the right to exist – against hypocritical wokeism exposed the moral bankruptcy at these elite universities to the world,” Scalise said.
“Students are scared to be Jewish on campus and these presidents’ answers before Congress reinforced their failures of leadership over the last few months. I will always defend the right to free speech, even when what’s being said is incredibly offensive. But, I won’t sit back when words and actions violate the law, instill fear, and put students in danger,”Gottheimer said.
The resolution risks dividing the Democratic caucus. Last week, Rep. Kathy Manning, D-N.C., who is Jewish and chairs the House’s antisemitism task force, split with Stefanik regarding a letter calling for the ouster of all three university presidents. Manning further alleged on X Tuesday that the House GOP Chair “didn’t care about protecting Jewish students.”
“All she cared about was calling for the resignation of university presidents to score political points,” Manning wrote. “Rep. Stefanik is trying to get a soundbite & media hits.”
In the months since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre, considered the deadliest attack against the Jewish people since the Holocaust, the Anti-Defamation League has recorded 2,031 antisemitic incidents, 400 of which occurred on college campuses, a more than 330% increase from the year prior, the resolution notes. It goes on to say how, “Jewish and Israeli students have faced physical violence, hate-filled disruptions in the classroom, calls from students and faculty advocating for the elimination and destruction of Israel, and other forms of persistent harassment.”
Harvard’s board went through extensive deliberations over the weekend and into Monday regarding calls from 74 House members from both sides of the aisle demanding Gay, as well as the presidents of MIT and UPenn, be removed. More than 500 Harvard faculty members, however, had written the board demanding the university support Gay and “defend the independence of the university and to resist political pressures that are at odds with Harvard’s commitment to academic freedom.”
Billionaire Harvard alum Bill Ackman also sent a letter demanding Gay’s ouster, claiming her “failure to condemn the most vile and barbaric terrorism the world has ever seen” following Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel resulted in the university losing billions in donations.