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Harvard, MIT and Penn presidents to testify before Congress on campus antisemitism

The presidents of Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Pennsylvania are going to testify before Congress next week at a hearing about antisemitism on college campuses.

The hearing, announced Tuesday, is scheduled for Dec. 5 and will be held by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

“Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen countless examples of antisemitic demonstrators on college campuses,” said Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) in a statement. “Meanwhile, college administrators have largely stood by, allowing horrific rhetoric to fester and grow.”

The war between Israel and Hamas has shown a spotlight on accusations of antisemitism and Islamophobic rhetoric and violence on college campuses.

Over the last several weeks, university presidents and administrators have been criticized by many students, alumni, faculty members and donors who have not agreed with their responses to the ongoing conflict.

The federal government opened civil rights investigations into several universities over allegations of antisemitism or Islamophobia since the war began, as part of the Biden administration’s action against discrimination in schools.

The schools separately have pledged to fight antisemitism on their campuses, but acts of discrimination and violence continue as the war nears two months.

“College and university presidents have a responsibility to foster and uphold a safe learning environment for their students and staff. Now is not a time for indecision or milequetoast statements,” Foxx’s statement said. “By holding this hearing, we are shining the spotlight on these campus leaders and demanding they take the appropriate action to stand strong against antisemitism.”

Foxx’s announcement makes no mention of plans to investigate Islamophobia or other forms of discrimination on college campuses.

Witnesses for the hearing, titled “Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism,” will include Dr. Claudine Gay, the president of Harvard; Liz Magill, the president of the University of Pennsylvania; and Dr. Sally Kornbluth, the president of MIT.

In an emailed statement, a UPenn spokesperson said Magill “understands the critical importance of fighting antisemitism and other forms of hate” on campus and “looks forward” to sharing what the university is doing at next week’s hearing.

In an emailed statement, a MIT spokesperson said Kornbluth “welcomes the opportunity to engage with the Committee Members.”

Harvard has not responded to The Hill’s request for comment.

In a previous House hearing, Republicans argued diversity, equity and inclusion offices on college campuses have failed to support Jewish students following the conflict in the Middle East.

This story was updated at 9:14 a.m.

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