Harvard University has issued a statement on Wednesday in a furious attempt at damage control, after President Claudine Gay refused to condemn students calling for the genocide of Jews.
During Tuesday testimony in front of the US House Education and the Workforce Committee, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), a Harvard grad, asked the presidents of Harvard, Penn, and MIT whether "calling for the genocide of Jews" violates their schools' code of conduct or constitutes bullying or harassment, referring to calls for "intifada" chanted during several school protests.
🚨🚨🚨Presidents of @Harvard @MIT and @Penn REFUSE to say whether “calling for the genocide of Jews” is bullying and harassment according to their codes of conduct. Even going so far to say it needs to turn to “action” first. As in committing genocide.— Rep. Elise Stefanik (@RepStefanik) December 5, 2023
THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE AND… pic.twitter.com/hUY3SgoOOi
In response, MIT President Sally Kornbluth said that they would be "investigated as harassment if pervasive and severe," while Penn's Liz Magill said "it is a context-dependent decision" that could be considered harassment "if the speech becomes conduct."
Harvard's Gay echoed Magill, saying that it depends on context, such as being "targeted at an individual."
Major donors rage
In response to the comments, activist investor and Harvard alum Bill Ackman said "They must all resign in disgrace," adding "if a CEO of one of our companies gave a similar answer, he or she would be toast within the hour."
The presidents of @Harvard, @MIT, and @Penn were all asked the following question under oath at today’s congressional hearing on antisemitism:— Bill Ackman (@BillAckman) December 5, 2023
Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate [your university’s] code of conduct or rules regarding bullying or harassment?
"There’s certain speech that is certainly permissible under the First Amendment," Ackman later told The David Rubenstein Show on Bloomberg TV. "People can be critical of Israel, the Israeli government. But, sadly, there are kids who have been spat on or been roughed up, or have been harassed, or antisemitic statements have been put on Slack message boards on campus."
Billionaire Dan Loeb also weighed in - saying in reply to Ackman: "The cowardly and unprincipled responses show them each to be unfit to lead."
Meanwhile, Penn alumnus and founder of AQR Capital Management Clif Asness said "I wish I could quit giving twice," in a post on X, adding "This is just insane. Insane."
This is just insane. Insane. The presidents are flat out evil and deeply mediocre. They aren’t even good at hiding their evil. Maybe they just don’t care.— Clifford Asness (@CliffordAsness) December 6, 2023
I wish I could quit giving twice. https://t.co/w68yTcS8S1
"Let me be clear"
In response to the outrage, Gay said that "There are some who have confused a right to free expression with the idea that Harvard will condone calls for violence against Jewish students," adding "Let me be clear (as if it's our fault for understanding her galaxy brain statements on Tuesday): Calls for violence or genocide against the Jewish community, or any religious or ethnic group are vile, they have no place at Harvard, and those who threaten our Jewish students will be held to account."
Statement from President Gay: There are some who have confused a right to free expression with the idea that Harvard will condone calls for violence against Jewish students. Let me be clear: Calls for violence or genocide against the Jewish community, or any religious or ethnic…— Harvard University (@Harvard) December 6, 2023
Why not just say that during testimony, Gay?
We got a "let me completely clear" the other day which was a nice variation https://t.co/fTsfBtupUd— Jarvis (@jarvis_best) December 6, 2023
As a professor who favors free speech on campus, I can sympathize with the "nuanced" answers given by U. presidents yesterday, about whether calls to attack or wipe out Israel violate campus speech policies.— Jonathan Haidt (@JonHaidt) December 6, 2023
What offends me is that since 2015, universities have been so quick to… https://t.co/ID6PlSeXDN