(Bloomberg) -- A bipartisan group of lawmakers demanded the dismissal of three high-profile university presidents who testified before a House committee this week about antisemitism and offered narrow legal responses to questions over whether calling for the genocide of Jews was against school policy.
“The world is watching — you can stand with your Jewish students and faculty or you can choose the side of dangerous antisemitism,” Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, and Jared Moskowitz, a Florida Democrat, said in a letter to the governing boards of Harvard University, University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Friday.
Stefanik and Moskowitz, joined by 72 of their Congressional colleagues in their demands, asked the boards to come up with plans to ensure that Jewish and Israeli students and faculty are safe on their campuses.
The House Education and the Workforce Committee held the hearing on Tuesday to scrutinize antisemitism in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas assault on Israel and the ensuing Israeli invasion of Gaza. Harvard’s Claudine Gay, Penn’s Liz Magill and MIT’s Sally Kornbluth appeared before the panel.
In a statement, MIT expressed its “full and unreserved” support for Kornbluth, adding that she has “done excellent work in leading our community, including in addressing antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hate, which we reject utterly at MIT.” Harvard and Penn didn’t have any immediate comment.
Earlier: Harvard, Penn Heads Walk Back Genocide Answers Amid Backlash
Stefanik, a Harvard graduate, questioned the presidents about whether “calling for the genocide of Jews” violates their code of conduct or constitutes bullying or harassment.
Magill responded that “it is a context-dependent decision” that could be considered harassment “if the speech becomes conduct.” Gay also said it depended on the context, such as being “targeted at an individual.” Kornbluth said it would be “investigated as harassment if pervasive and severe.”
Gay and Magill were lambasted over their responses and later tried to clarify their remarks.
“Antisemitism has been allowed to fester on college campuses for years, and in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack, the world is witnessing the consequences,” the representatives wrote. “This is a clear result of the failure of university leadership.”
(Updates with statement from MIT in fifth paragraph)
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