Since the October 7, 2023 attack in Israel, high profile contentious protests have taken place at some of the top universities in the country.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Penn, and Harvard have made national news over some protests that are extremely anti-Jewish.
The presidents of the three universities were called before Congress and what took place was indefensible.
When Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) asked university heads if some of the rhetoric of the protests violates the school’s code of conduct she got answers that caused backlash.
“If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment, yes,” said Liz Magill of Penn. Stefanik pressed asking, “If it is directed and severe or pervasive, it is harassment.” When Stefanik asked her for a firm “yes,” Magill replied that it is “a context-dependent decision.”
“It’s a context-dependent decision? That’s your testimony today?” Stefanik replied. “Calling for the genocide of Jews is depending upon the context? That is not bullying or harassment? This is the easiest question to answer ‘yes’ Ms. Magill.”
Magill then said that “if the speech becomes conduct, it can be harassment.” When Stefanik pressed her again, she said the call “can be harassment.”
“If targeted at individuals, not making public statements,” said Sally Kornbluth of MIT.
Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay made similar statements and there was a ton of backlash.
At one point, Magill was seen smirking during testimony.
A day later, the schools were rushing out apologies and explanations, but it really just made things worse.
— Chaya Raichik (@ChayaRaichik10) December 7, 2023
Rep. Stefanik called the clean up attempt “pathetic.”
“This pathetic PR clean up attempt by @Penn shockingly took over 24 hours to try to fix the moral depravity of the answers under oath yesterday. And there was not even an apology. By the way, the questions were asked over and over and over again. No statement will fix what the world saw and heard yesterday. There is zero question that the world knows that the only answer is for @Penn to deliver accountability and bring in new leadership immediately,” Stefanik wrote in response to the “apology.”
Harvard also backtracked.
Statement from President Gay: There are some who have confused a right to free expression with the idea that Harvard will condone calls for violence against Jewish students. Let me be clear: Calls for violence or genocide against the Jewish community, or any religious or ethnic…
— Harvard University (@Harvard) December 6, 2023