Harvard students call for Intifada/None
University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill announced Sunday that she will resign from her position, four days after she sparked a public outcry when she participated in a heated congressional hearing on the state of campus antisemitism, along with the Harvard and MIT presidency. The announcement of the end of her term was sent to the Board of Trustees of the academic institution.
Magill drew public criticism when she was the first to respond vaguely when asked by Republican Representative Alice Stefanik: "Does calling for genocide of Jews violate the university's rules of conduct?"
"If the words turn into resistance, it could be harassment," Megill replied, but Stefanik continued to press: "I ask, does a specific call for genocide against Jews really constitute bullying or harassment?" After an exchange, the president of the University of Pennsylvania replied, "That could be harassment." Stefanik replied: "The answer is yes."
She had similar exchanges with the Harvard presidency, where she studied, and MIT, which also avoided giving a clear answer. They said it was "context-dependent."
As noted, the hearing sparked a great public outcry, and led to calls for Magil's resignation from students and university graduates. "Her vague approach sends a chilling message to Jewish students, facilitates their assault and weakens their security," reads the petition. Pennsylvania's governor, who is on the college's board of trustees, said there would need to be a "serious conversation" about Magill's statements and whether they reflected the university's values.
As a result, even before her resignation, Magill apologized for her remarks and stated that she intended to review the university's policy against calls for genocide. "I want to be clear, calling for the genocide of the Jewish people raises a profound threat," she wrote in her apology. "It was deliberately intended to terrorize a people who had experienced pogroms and hate crimes over the centuries, and were victims of genocide in the Holocaust. I believe that such a call is harassment or a threat. We can win this battle."
University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill resigned following a congressional hearing on the state of campus antisemitism. December 10, 2023/Reuters
University of Pennsylvania President Liz Magill at a hearing on antisemitism on House campuses in Washington, D.C., USA, Dec. 5, 2023/Reuters
At the end of the stormy four-hour debate in which allegations of anti-Semitism and foreign funding of universities were raised by Republican members of the conference, Stefanik published a post on X calling for the resignation of the presidency.
"The presidency of Harvard, MIT, and Penn refused to say that 'calling for genocide of Jews' was bullying and harassment under their code of conduct. So much so that they said it should become an 'action' first. As in committing genocide. This is unacceptable and anti-Semitic. They should all retire immediately, today."
During the hearings, university leaders defended themselves against claims that they were not doing enough to combat anti-Semitism on their campuses and protect Jewish students. Harvard President Claudine Gay said balancing freedom of speech and protest with protecting students from hate was challenging.
"It's hard work. And I know I don't always do it right," she said.
Committee chairwoman Virginia Fox, who called them to testify, said those efforts were not enough. She accused university leaders of standing by and "allowing a shocking turkey to heat up and grow" since Oct. 7.
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