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University leaders’ responses to Stefanik’s questions on antisemitism spark furor

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The presidents of prominent universities are under fire following their responses during a congressional hearing on antisemitism, with calls for their resignation gaining momentum. New York Rep.

Elise Stefanik’s probing questions, particularly directed at the heads of the University of Pennsylvania, MIT, and Harvard, have triggered a heated backlash.

Stefanik pressed Elizabeth Magill, president of Penn, on whether advocating for the genocide of Jews violates the university’s rules. Magill’s response, linking such speech to potential harassment, further fueled the controversy. A similar inquiry to Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, yielded a nuanced answer, stating that it depends on the context.

The ensuing criticism and demands for resignation have not subsided despite attempts by the university leaders to clarify their comments. The GOP-led House Committee on Education and the Workforce has announced an investigation into the three institutions, cautioning that other universities may also face scrutiny.

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff condemned the university leaders during the National Menorah lighting, expressing dismay at their inability to denounce calls for the genocide of Jews as antisemitic. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries emphasized the importance of university leaders unequivocally rejecting antisemitism on campuses, while also criticizing proposed spending cuts by GOP members to the Department of Education.

Governor Kathy Hochul, speaking in Albany, labeled the university leaders’ comments as “enormously distressing” and pledged to affirm their violation of federal civil rights law. She asserted the need to protect students from a hostile environment, emphasizing that universities allowing such language on their campuses breach their commitment to fostering a safe atmosphere.

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