Harvard, Penn and MIT presidents called by Congress to address antisemitism on campus after being criticized by alumni like Bill Ackman

The presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will be called before Congress next week to address antisemitism on their campuses.

Set to appear Dec. 5 on Capitol Hill are Harvard’s Claudine Gay, Penn’s Liz Magill and MIT’s Sally Kornbluth, according to a statement from the House Education and Workforce Committee.

College campuses have been roiled by protests and tensions since Hamas, which the US and European Union designate a terrorist group, attacked Israel on Oct. 7. Alumni, donors and students have criticized leadership at Harvard, Penn and other colleges over incidents of antisemitism on campus.

“Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen countless examples of antisemitic demonstrations on college campuses,” Representative Virginia Foxx, a Republican from North Carolina and chair of the committee, said in a statement. “Meanwhile, college administrators have largely stood by, allowing horrific rhetoric to fester and grow.” 

Harvard has been chastised by alumni including US Senator Mitt Romney and billionaire investor Bill Ackman for not doing enough to keep Jewish students safe, and donors have announced they would stop supporting the Ivy League university. Ackman has called for Harvard to discipline protesters who violate rules because he said the lack of punishment further emboldens them to take “more aggressive, disruptive and antisemitic actions.”

More than half of Jewish US college students say they feel unsafe on their campus since the Hamas attack, according to a poll released last week by Hillel International.

The US Education Department this month opened investigations of possible discrimination based on shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics at universities including Cornell, Penn, Wellesley College, Cooper Union, Lafayette College, the University of Tampa and Columbia. At least five of the probes allege antisemitic harassment, and at least two two allege anti-Muslim harassment. Harvard was added to the list of schools under investigation on Tuesday.

Gay and Kornbluth said they welcome the opportunity to testify. A spokesperson for Penn didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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