Congress to hold hearing on antisemitism on college campuses

December 5, 2023

The presidents of Harvard, Penn and MIT were set to testify before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about combating antisemitism on campus.

The hearing comes amid rising tensions on school campuses in the wake of Israel’s war on Hamas in Gaza. Since Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack on Israel, colleges and universities have been struggling to balance campus safety and free speech concerns.

In early November, a 21-year-old student at Cornell University was arrested and slapped with federal charges following social media posts threatening violence against Jewish students.

And in recent weeks, there have been hundreds of protests and counterprotests on college campuses, some of which have turned violent.

 “Muslim students are walking around scared, just like the Jewish students are walking around scared,” noted Rabbi Esther Reed of Rutgers University.

Last month, the Department of Education announced an investigation into five alleged cases of antisemitism and two alleged cases of Islamophobia at seven different schools.

Amid fears of losing donors, several schools, including Columbia and Penn, have enacted task forces or action plans targeting acts of hate and hate speech.  

And the Biden Administration last month announced a national strategy to combat Islamophobia following the announcement of an earlier national strategy to combat antisemitism back in May.

However, the House committee investigating antisemitism, which is chaired by conservative Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, makes no mention of plans to investigate Islamophobia or other forms of hate. 

“College administrators have largely stood by, allowing horrific rhetoric to fester and grow,” Foxx said in a statement. “College and university presidents have a responsibility to foster and uphold a safe learning environment for their students and staff. Now is not a time for indecision or milquetoast statements.”

Harvard President Claudine Gay, MIT President Sally Kornbluth and Penn President Liz Magill were all scheduled to testify on Tuesday.

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