US House calls for resignation of Harvard, MIT presidents

Both presidents said chanting for the genocide of Jews is ‘context-based.’

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner

The US House of Representatives on Wednesday evening approved a resolution condemning testimony from the presidents of three elite universities who last week refused to declare that calling for the genocide of Jews would constitute a violation of school rules.

Lawmakers cleared the bipartisan measure in a 303-126 vote, formally rebuking the comments of Claudine Gay of Harvard University, Elizabeth Magill of the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), and Sally Kornbluth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). All but one Republican voted for the measure.

The vote divided Democrats, however, with 125 opposing the resolution and dozens voting for it. Three Democrats voted present.

The resolution demanded the resignations of Gay and Kornbluth, after Magill resigned over what critics described as an insufficient response to surging antisemitism on campus.

“President Magill has resigned, and the other presidents should follow suit,” the resolution stated. “Acts of hate, intimidation, discrimination, and violence-based on ethnicity or religion have no place in our country or in the global community.”

For over three hours last Tuesday, Gay, Magill, and Kornbluth evaded answering questions posed by members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, dodging sharp inquiries about how they have responded to deepening hostility to Israel and the Jewish community on their campuses.

“Resolved, that the House of Representatives (1) strongly condemns the rise of antisemitism on university campuses around the country; and (2) strongly condemns the testimony of University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill, Harvard University President Claudine Gay, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Sally Kornbluth and their failure to clearly state that calls for the genocide of Jews constitute harassment and violate their institutions’ code of conduct,” the resolution stated.

The testimonies of the university presidents went viral and prompted widespread calls for their resignations on social media. By the time Magill resigned on Saturday, two Jewish students had sued the school for civil rights violations and a major donor threatened to withhold a $100 million gift if she remained in the position. Magill told the committee that designating calls for the genocide of Jews as violations of university policy on bullying and harassment would be “context-dependent.” Gay similarly said it “depends on the context,” and Kornbluth remarked it would only constitute harassment if it were “targeted at individuals.”

Following Magill’s resignation, Gay came under scrutiny, with calls for her resignation crescendoing over the weekend alongside allegations — which the university has addressed in a statement — that she plagiarized portions of her early academic work. As of Wednesday, Gay remains on the job after receiving an outpouring of support from Harvard faculty and a vote of confidence from Harvard’s top governing board.

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“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,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), who proposed the resolution and initiated the exchange with the college presidents that drew widespread attention, said in a statement. “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.”

Stefanik introduced the bipartisan resolution on Tuesday alongside Reps. Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ).

“Students are scared to be Jewish on campus and these presidents’ answers before Congress reinforced their failures of leadership over the last few months,” Gottheimer said in a statement.

“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,” he added. “There is a right to freedom of speech, but there is also a freedom of fear when at school. As a dad, I don’t ever want any student — regardless of background — to feel scared to be who they are at school.”

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In addition to the resolution, the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce announced last Thursday a new investigation into Harvard, MIT, and Penn to determine whether they have failed to address surging antisemitism on their campuses.

Both actions come amid an alarming spike in antisemitic incidents — including demonstrations calling for Israel’s destruction and the intimidation and harassment of Jewish students— since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel. Elite universities — including Harvard, Penn, and MIT — have been among the biggest hubs of such activity, with students and faculty both demonizing Israel and rationalizing the Hamas atrocities.

Incidents of harassment and even violence against Jewish students have also increased. As a result, Jewish students have expressed feeling unsafe and unprotected on campuses. In some cases, Jewish communities on campuses have been forced to endure threats of rape and mass slaughter.