Headline RoundupDecember 8th, 2023

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. 

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