Top university presidents are under fire for testimony about anti-Semitism on campus

December 7 – Amid growing outrage over anti-Semitic behavior on college campuses, calls for leaders of the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to step down have been heard. 

The demand has become particularly strong following their recent testimony at a US House of Representatives hearing on anti-Semitism on campus. 

UPenn President Liz Magill attempted to clean up some of the testimony in a video she released last night, but it may not be enough. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “Those three were terrible and you’re seeing round condemnation from all circles, Governor Shapiro, different political officials condemning their testimony. Those three were asked repeatedly to confirm that it would be harassment that it would not be protected free speech, when these pro-Palestinian demonstrations are happening on campus, and the protesters are calling for genocide against the Jews. Again, it was a simple question and I think they just easily could have said, of course that’s not protected free speech when they’re calling for violence or death to people, but all three of them and I don’t know if they were coached or what was going on, they kept giving this very clever answer that well, it depends on the context. It might be free speech, it might be criminal. It depends on the context. They seem so reluctant to go on the record and just condemn what some of these protesters are doing. I think it would have been just such an easy answer to say, of course, we endorse free speech. Everyone has a right to say what they want, that’s controversial. However, it’s not free speech when they threaten violence and are calling for genocide.”

Big donors have said they will no longer be writing checks to support these universities. 

Barkdoll added, “You’re seeing alumni groups, other board members now coming forward, calling for changes at the top. I don’t know if these presidents survive. I would not be surprised if you see them resign or be fired in the next few days. It’ll be interesting to watch what happens.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM said, “You cannot help but see the results of equity and DEI coming out in their comments and the fact that they each had such a similar answer, it sounds a little pre planned and it sounds like they are bowing to the gods of DEI. It’s like what we’re seeing in our country. Rule of law doesn’t apply and we’re no longer a nation of laws. We’re a nation of men again, and why? DEI, thank you, equity because things don’t apply equally anymore. What they’re saying is where as a call for genocide of any group, you would think more than ever would be condemned because of all the things we’re talking about, microaggressions being so hurtful. This is the call for genocide, and they say it has to be contextualized. That’s what this ideology teaches. You no longer equally apply things when people commit crimes, when people call for genocide, you have to look at that context. I worry because I’m starting to look at some of these colleges and where they get funding, a lot of funding is coming from entities within countries who are in support of Muslim suppression or support of the idea of Muslim oppression and we need to ban it. So that’s another worry that they’re actually worried about their funding, but I can’t help but see this ideology in all three of those answers.” 

Barkdoll said, “At these schools, money talks and these are private institutions. When you have big donors coming out saying we’re not writing the multi-million dollar checks anymore, that’s the sort of thing that very much gets the attention of the board. I think there’s just going to be growing pressure this week to oust all three of them. It’s just remarkable. These are three of our leading institutions of higher education in the country, if not the world, that they came into a hearing like that seemingly just so inadequate in the way they would answer such a simple question. It’s just baffling.”

Jansen noted, “It’s not baffling if they are worried about their students who might riot on campus if they don’t give this kind of an answer, because this is what the students are being taught, how they’re taught to see the world. So to me, it’s not so baffling.”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “What do you expect when you’ve also got a group of White House interns writing a letter to the president and vice president demanding a permanent ceasefire in the Israel Hamas war? Who’s running the show anymore here? That’s the Trump watch. See you, by, out you go.” 

Barkdoll agreed, “Those interns, they should be gone. I mean, they have a right to of course express their opinion, but the idea that they’re collectively sending this letter. It’s doubtful the president will even see that letter, but then they come out publicly to make an announcement about it. It’s just remarkable where things are going.”

PA Representative Rob Kauffman said, “Representative Elise Stefanik of New York was questioning them. I watched it and it was riveting because she asked them not once, not twice, not three times. She gave them so many chances to give the correct answer. Let’s be clear. There are schools where their code of conduct doesn’t allow speech that people find offensive. So if somebody says my belief is this, it has nothing to do with harming anyone or genocide, for instance, if someone’s faith said that they didn’t agree with someone in their activity. They could be held in violation of code of conduct. There are people calling for the genocide of the Jewish people and these university presidents won’t say that violates the code of conduct. It is beyond comprehension. They were given multiple chances to make it right and they would not and they should all resign. UPenn right here in Pennsylvania in the city of Philadelphia, if you didn’t realize that is a hotbed of wokeness, you should know it now because that was the president who refused to call that out.”

Are there any calls in the PA legislature for the UPenn president to resign? 

Kauffman said, “I think we’ll hear a lot more next week. I mean, even Governor Shapiro has decried what the UPenn president said so they’re hearing it from all sides. When the legislature is in session, that’s when I think it’ll come to a fever pitch because that’s when the news cycle revolves around those kinds of things.”