The House Education and the Workforce Committee announced it will be investigating Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania after their institutions’ leaders failed to sufficiently condemn student protests calling for “Jewish genocide.”
“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 with the full force of subpoena power into Penn, MIT, & Harvard and others,” Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, the fourth-ranking House Republican, said in a statement.
“We will use our full Congressional authority to hold these schools accountable for their failure on the global stage," she said.
Stefanik, along with other Republicans on the House education committee, needled Harvard President Claudine Gay, Penn President Liz Magill and MIT President Sally Kornbluth at a more than five-hour hearing Tuesday over their response to antisemitism on their campuses since Hamas' Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Stefanik demanded the college leaders outline whether pro-Palestinian student protesters' calls for “intifada” or “the genocide of Jews” violate their codes of conduct on bullying or harassment.
The college presidents, some of whom have since apologized for their testimony, refused to say “calling for Jewish genocide” is classified as bullying, harassment or violates their school policy. They also said while they personally did not agree with the rhetoric used by those students, they are committed to preserving free speech on campus.
House Education and Workforce Chair Virginia Foxx on Thursday called the presidents' testimonies "unacceptable" and said committee members have "deep concerns with their leadership" and "failure" to keep their campuses safe for Jewish students. The committee's formal investigation will probe the schools' learning environments, policies and disciplinary procedures.
"This investigation will include substantial document requests, and the Committee will not hesitate to utilize compulsory measures including subpoenas if a full response is not immediately forthcoming," Foxx said in a statement, adding that the investigations will not be limited to just Harvard, MIT and Penn.
“Other universities should expect investigations as well, as their litany of similar failures has not gone unnoticed,” Foxx said.
Harvard and MIT, in response to the announcement, said they will work with the committee and share information as lawmakers pursue their inquiry.
Harvard said its work to combat antisemitism "is advancing with the highest commitment and attention from University leaders." And MIT responded that it "rejects antisemitism in all its forms" and "has stood up a campus-wide initiative 'Standing Against Hate.'”