University Presidents Were Criticized for Congressional Testimony on Campus Anti-Semitism. What Should They Have Said?
Summary from the AllSides News Team
The presidents of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, and MIT continued to face criticism over their response to student statements on the Israel-Hamas conflict after they testified to a House panel.
The Details: Conflicting reports suggest Penn’s board may or may not be considering replacing university President Liz Magill after a prominent donor threatened to pull back a $100 million donation over her testimony. Magill and Harvard President Claudine Gay issued statements apologizing and clarifying their positions.
‘They routinely, eagerly censor speech’: A writer in the libertarian outlet Reason (Lean Right bias) accused the university presidents of hypocrisy, citing a list of examples where universities had previously “censored” speech characterized as hateful.
‘These presidents let half a country down’: A writer in The New Republic (Left bias) agreed with arguments that the presidents’ testimony had been technically accurate, but said they had displayed “gross incompetence” in falling for a Republican rhetorical trap to make them “appear to equivocate about antisemitism.”
‘It’s beside the point’: A history professor argued in CNN (Opinion rated Left) that the conversation around the presidents distracted from “hard” questions and history, which “is complicated and doesn’t support simple ideological positions.” Such controversies, he said, “dominate the conversation because they are public, simplistic, and allow people to score political points.”
Other Perspectives: A Washington Post (Lean Left bias) contributor framed the university presidents as hypocritical and beholden to “progressive ideology,” but added that it was often unclear which statements counted as “genocidal” in isolation.
Featured Coverage of this Story
From the LeftThe Real Problem With Those College Presidents? Gross Incompetence.
Almost everyone has been piling on that pitiful troika of elite university presidents after their congressional testimony on Tuesday. A few other folks, people I know and respect like Michelle Goldberg of The New York Times and Jay Michaelson of The Daily Beast, have added some valuable nuance, arguing that in context, the position the presidents were defending actually had merit.
I agree with the main points both made in their columns—in effect, that Republican Representative Elise Stefanik’s disingenuous grilling of the presidents, which conflated free speech with targeted harassment, set a trap that forced them to...
From the RightDon't Excuse the Hypocrisy of University Presidents When It Comes to Free Speech
Leaders of elite educational institutions are now desperately trying to contain the fallout from the explosive hearing earlier this week at which the presidents of Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Pennsylvania failed to reassure Congress that they were sufficiently concerned about antisemitism on campus.
UPenn President Elizabeth Magill released a video yesterday in which she clarified that calling for genocide against Jewish people is "evil, plain and simple" and would in fact violate the university's anti-harassment policies.
From the CenterMy students aren’t debating ‘genocide,’ they’re looking for the freedom to learn
I wish more of the people who are so obsessed with campus speech could actually focus on the kind of speech that really matters for college students and those of us tasked with educating them.
In a world driven by sound bites, social media, secret recordings of professors and students and even elected officials demanding yes/no answers, suspicion and division are building, rendering it seemingly impossible to have the difficult conversations in the classroom that always, in my experience, lie at the core of any great education.
This isn’t a...