In a bipartisan move, U.S. Representatives Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.) are leading calls for the immediate dismissal of the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania. The demand comes in response to what the lawmakers perceive as a mishandling of antisemitism on their campuses.
The lawmakers, along with 72 co-signatories, penned a letter addressed to the board members of these prestigious institutions. The letter accuses university leaders of tolerating the dehumanization of Jewish individuals and insists on the creation of an action plan to safeguard Jewish and Israeli students and faculty.
Central to the lawmakers’ concern is the discomfort and hostility faced by Jewish and Israeli students on these campuses. Incidents include targeted harassment, protests advocating for the elimination of the Jewish state, and, alarmingly, acts of violence. The letter contends that Jewish students should find comfort on their campuses but, instead, many face an increasingly hostile educational environment, a consequence, they argue, of university leadership failures.
Initiates an inquiry
This week, the presidents of Harvard, UPenn, and MIT—Claudine Gay, Liz McGill, and Sally Kornbluth, respectively—faced scrutiny from House lawmakers regarding their response to on-campus protests. These protests involved calls for violent armed resistance against the state of Israel and the genocide of Jews.
During the hearing, the university presidents’ responses were criticized by Stefanik and Moskowitz for being evasive and dismissive. The letter demands the immediate removal of the presidents and the establishment of a plan to ensure the safety of Jewish and Israeli individuals on campus.
US Representatives perceive university presidents as condescending
Stefanik has gone a step further, announcing a formal congressional investigation into the actions of the three universities. The letter concludes with a stern warning, asserting that anything less than the specified steps will be seen as an endorsement of what the presidents communicated to Congress, constituting an act of complicity in their perceived antisemitic stance.
The bipartisan initiative highlights the growing concern among lawmakers about the rise of antisemitic incidents on college campuses and the need for proactive measures to ensure the safety and well-being of Jewish and Israeli students. The university leaders now face increased pressure to address these concerns and take concrete actions against antisemitism within their academic institutions.