UPenn President and Board Chair Resign After Refusal to Condemn Antisemitism

University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill, and the chairman of the board of trustees, Scott L. Bok, have both resigned after intense pressure from alumni, donors and members of Congress

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Magill was hounded from office after a disastrous performance at a congressional hearing on antisemitism on American college campuses.

At the hearing, New York Rep. Elise Stefanik bored in on Magill’s equivocations, trying to elicit a clear response to a question about antisemitism.

“Calling for the genocide of Jews,” Ms. Stefanik asked, “does that constitute bullying or harassment?”

Ms. Magill replied, “If it is directed and severe, pervasive, it is harassment.”

Ms. Stefanik responded, “So the answer is yes.”

Ms. Magill said, “It is a context-dependent decision, congresswoman.”

Ms. Stefanik exclaimed: “That’s your testimony today? Calling for the genocide of Jews is depending upon the context?”

Yes, it was that bad.

Even worse, Mr. Bok tried to defend Magill, claiming the president was “worn down” by her job.

“Worn down by months of relentless external attacks, she was not herself last Tuesday,” he wrote. “Over-prepared and over-lawyered given the hostile forum and high stakes, she provided a legalistic answer to a moral question, and that was wrong. It made for a dreadful 30-second sound bite in what was more than five hours of testimony.”

“One down. Two to go,” Rep. Stefanik said in a statement on Saturday, referring to the presidents of Harvard and MIT, who were similarly vague about antisemitism. “This is only the very beginning of addressing the pervasive rot of antisemitism that has destroyed the most ‘prestigious’ higher education institutions in America. This forced resignation of the president of Penn is the bare minimum of what is required.”

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Claudine Gay of Harvard and Sally Kornbluth of MIT are both impervious to calls for their resignation. The MIT board actually issued a statement of support for Kornbluth.

It’s not surprising. Harvard, MIT, and the University of Pennsylvania are all hypocrites, claiming free speech rights for people who call for the genocide of Jews while forbidding the free speech of conservatives.

American Spectator:

At one point, Kornbluth pushed back at committee Republicans for “in effect arguing for a speech code.” She said she wants to protect “speech and viewpoint diversity for everyone.”

Who believes that? Not students in those institutions. The FIRE survey found that 70 percent of Harvard students say shouting down speakers to prevent them from speaking on campus is “at least rarely acceptable.”

At an event flanked by House Speaker Mike Johnson, Penn senior Eyal Yakoby offered that he used to think stories about campus antisemitism were “nonsense” and “fear-mongering.” Since Oct. 7, however, his beloved Penn has become “a chilling landscape of hatred and hostility.”

Even before the congressional hearing, Magill had enraged the donor community and prominent alumni with her decision to allow a Palestinian literary conference on campus last September. Just two weeks after that event, Hamas invaded Israel.

New York Times

Less than two weeks after the conference, Hamas attacked Israel, and some of the university’s largest benefactors, led by Marc Rowan, the head of Apollo Global Management, were furious with what they said was Ms. Magill’s tepid approach to condemning the attacks.

He called for donors to pull their money from Penn. Major contributors soon joined in, including Ronald S. Lauder, the cosmetics billionaire, and the former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. and his family.

The criticism of Ms. Magill intensified after Tuesday’s hearing, within the Penn community and beyond. Ross L. Stevens, a hedge fund manager, began the process of withdrawing a donation valued at about $100 million and said he would not reconsider until Penn had new leadership. The Rowan-led advisory board at Wharton, Penn’s business school, pressed for changes, too.

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Yes, there’s a question of free speech involved. But the university presidents have no standing to debate it. Until they allow political speech from left and right at their schools, their calls for “academic freedom” should fall on deaf ears.

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