December 11, 2023

College Presidents

“Testimony by the leaders of three top universities at a congressional hearing [last] week on antisemitism on college campuses has sparked significant backlash… Critics have condemned their answers to New York Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik's yes/no question during the hearing on whether ‘calling for the genocide of Jews’ violated the schools' codes of conduct. The leaders said in varying ways that the answer would be context specific, and related to whether speech turned into conduct.” Axios

A Republican-led House committee is launching an investigation into antisemitism at MIT, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and other elite colleges… ‘After this week's pathetic and morally bankrupt testimony by university presidents when answering my questions, the Education and Workforce Committee is launching an official Congressional investigation,’ Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said in a statement.” Axios

The University of Pennsylvania’s president has resigned amid pressure from donors and criticism… The chairman of the Ivy League school’s board of trustees, Scott Bok, also resigned immediately during a trustees meeting Saturday evening.” AP News

See past issues

From the Right

The right accuses the college presidents of hypocrisy, and calls for reducing the power of DEI bureaucracies.

From the Left

The left defends the substance of the college presidents’ answers, but worries about inconsistencies in their support for free speech.

The left defends the substance of the college presidents’ answers, but worries about inconsistencies in their support for free speech.

A libertarian's take

“Magill’s original answer was right. Context does matter… The 1st Amendment doesn’t have an ‘advocacy of genocide’ exception, nor do the promises of student free speech that many private universities properly make. And for good reason: Students must be free to debate what is proper to do in war, and what wars are just

“Indeed, any new rule prohibiting ‘advocacy of genocide’ could easily be used against pro-Israel speakers. Many argue that Israel is entitled to kill as many Hamas fighters as it can, and if Hamas hides behind civilians, then Israel is entitled to kill the civilians to get to Hamas. But others argue the state of Israel was wrongly created on Palestinian land, and that Israeli Jews need to be expelled from it — through mass relocation if possible, or through combat…

“Universities must keep students safe from true threats and punish targeted harassment, violence, vandalism, and other unprotected conduct. But to truly deliver on the promise of higher education, university leaders — and Penn’s next president — must do all of that without abandoning free speech standards.”
Eugene Volokh and Will Creeley, Los Angeles Times

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