Independent. Uncensored. | Investigative Reports from US and around the world.

Article, Middle East, Politics, U.S.

“One Down, Two to Go”: An Analysis of Rep. Stefanik’s Academic Restoration

Elise Stefanik

University Presidents spar with Republican Lawmakers at the Capitol Hills hearing over Antisemitism

Posted: December 12, 2023 at 7:30 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., made headlines after she challenged three university presidents from some of the country’s most prestigious education institutions. This ultimately led to the resignation of University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill last Saturday.

In a four-hour congressional hearing, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., questioned University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill,  Claudine Gay of Harvard, and Sally Kornbluth of M.I.T. before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce last week. The session sought to address and confront the escalating issue of antisemitism disrupting their campuses and endangering the well-being of Jewish students.

Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC) opened the hearing with a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Hamas-launched war on October 7th. Magill, Gay, and Kornbluth were each tasked with two questions, “Do you have the courage to truly confront and condemn the ideology driving antisemitism? Or will you offer weak, blame-shifting excuses and yet another responsibility dodging taskforce?”. According to the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the university presidents opted for the latter.    

The leaders of the elite universities denounced antisemitism and Islamophobia broadly, emphasizing their ongoing efforts to combat these issues. However, when Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., questioned the three leaders about whether a student advocating for the genocide of Jews would violate college codes of conduct, they consistently evaded the question.

“At MIT, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate the code of conduct for bullying and harassment, yes or no?” Rep. Elise Stefanik asked President Kornbluth of M.I.T. 

Instead of offering the expected one-word response, Kornbluth skirted the question, saying, “I have not heard calls for the genocide of Jews on our campus.” Soon afterward, Kornbluth went on to recount instances of hearing chants of “intifada” on campus. 

Every individual response provided by Magill, Gay, and Kornbluth skillfully avoided the explicitly requested yes or no answer. Most of their responses defaulted to a “context-dependent” answer.  Representative Elise Stefanik reminded them that, through this evasion, they are dehumanizing their Jewish students—an undeniable factor of antisemitism.

The interactions between the university presidents and Stefanik gained widespread attention on social media, sparking intense criticism from political leaders across party lines, as well as advocates from the Jewish community, alumni, and donors.

Elizabeth Magill Resigns as the University of Pennsylvania President

Just four days after her appearance before Congress, the former university president resigned from her position on Saturday, stating that her role is no longer “tenable.” Following the announcement of Magill’s resignation,  Scott L. Bok, the chair of the Penn Board of Trustees, stepped down from his position as well, as reported in a statement published by the Daily Pennsylvanian student newspaper. 

“While I was asked to remain in that role for the remainder of my term in order to help with the presidential transition, I concluded that, for me, now was the right time to depart,” Bok stated in the announcement.

Claudine Gay of Harvard and Sally Kornbluth of M.I.T. remain strong in their presidential positions. The two elite university presidents have faced extreme backlash from the public, urging for their resignation. An increasing number of students and faculty are split, with some resisting the demands for the removal of the presidents, finding that such actions go against the school’s principles of independence and freedom of speech.

Gay apologized in an interview with The Crimson on Thursday, “Word hurt. When words amplify distress and pain, I don’t know how you could feel anything but regret”. 

On Monday, the executive committee of the Harvard Alumni Association voiced its endorsement for Gay and urged the university’s governing boards to make a public declaration of support as well.  “We are confident President Gay will address antisemitism and other forms of hate, effectively and courageously.”, wrote the committee. 

Newsletter subscribe
giweather WordPress widget