Elite Universities Attempt Damage Control After Anti-Semitism Backlash

December 7, 2023

Elite universities are attempting damage control amid backlash over their presidents' testimony to Congress on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on campus.

The presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology testified that it "depends on the context" whether calls for the genocide of the Jewish people would violate university rules.

Penn attempted to clarify President Liz Magill's testimony the following day, releasing a video statement from Magill in which she said,  "I was not focused on—but I should've been—the irrefutable fact that a call for genocide of Jewish people is a call for some of the most terrible violence human beings can perpetrate."

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.), who grilled the university presidents during their testimony, blasted the video, calling it a "pathetic PR clean up attempt."

Harvard released a statement from President Claudine Gay on Wednesday attempting to distance the university from genocidal rhetoric, saying, "there are some who have confused a right to free expression with the idea that Harvard will condone calls for violence against Jewish students."