A prominent Democratic member of Congress called for an investigation into major colleges following a significant increase in antisemitism since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 7. The word comes as the head of one of the universities mentioned resigned this weekend.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) called for the resignations of the presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His call came just one day before UPenn’s president stepped down.
Gottheimer’s comments came after the heads of the colleges testified before Congress about the rise of antisemitism and did not affirmatively condemn it.
The representative made the comments during an interview with CNN.
“Imagine being a parent of a student on that campus who — and I don’t ever want any student, I don’t care if you’re Jewish if you’re Muslim, I don’t want anyone to be afraid to go to class, to be who they are, regardless of their background,” he said. “And, to me, I don’t know how if you’re a Jewish student right now on those campuses, or frankly on a lot of campuses in our country, you’re not just afraid.”
Gottheimer said that “when people are screaming death to Jews or dirty little Jew or other things,” students “literally don’t want to go to class.” He said that students are too afraid to wear a yarmulke and “just can’t be who they are.”
The representative said that there should be “freedom from fear and no one should be afraid.” He added that since the colleges receive significant amounts of federal funding they may be in violation of federal policy.
He backed investigations into the campuses and if found to be violating federal policy, “they could lose their funding.”
The call comes as UPenn President Liz Magill announced she was stepping down from her position amid reports that the college wanted her out. Following her testimony to Congress, a major donor rescinded a planned $100 million gift.
Following the announcement, Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) criticized Magill, writing “Good Riddance!”
Torres wrote that “America urgently needs college and university presidents able and willing to take a morally clear stand against antisemitism.”
BREAKING: Elizabeth Magill, the President of UPENN, resigns after failing to denounce genocidal rhetoric against Jews as harassment.
America urgently needs college and university presidents able and willing to take a morally clear stand against antisemitism. pic.twitter.com/LAvjmnJ7fO
— Ritchie Torres (@RitchieTorres) December 9, 2023