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House committee threatens Harvard with subpoena over antisemitism probe

Harvard University recently turned over 1,032 pages of communications to the House Education and Workforce Committee investigating the institution for antisemitism, but the document dump has representatives dissatisfied with what they called a “woefully inadequate” response.

Many of the documents were already widely available public resources, such as student handbooks, and other pages included “inexplicable redactions,” wrote the committee in a Feb. 7 memo addressed to Penny Pritzker, who leads the Harvard Corporation.

North Carolina Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx, chair of the committee, called the materials “grossly insufficient” in the memo. She described it as Harvard’s obstruction to produce relevant documentation.

“Upon initial review, Harvard’s production to the Committee in response to its antisemitism investigation is woefully inadequate. Rather than answering the Committee’s request in a substantive manner, Harvard has chosen to provide letters from nonprofits and student handbooks, many of which are already publicly available,” she wrote in the five-page letter.

“This is unacceptable. Harvard must produce the remaining documents in a timely manner, or risk compulsory measures.”

A news release from the committee stated Congress would subpoena the documents if necessary. Calling it a “final warning” to Harvard, the Ivy League institution must provide the initially requested documents by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14.

Part of what the committee seeks is meeting minutes or summaries from the Harvard Board of Overseers and Harvard Management Company since Oct. 7, which is when Israel was hit with a terrorist attack that killed more than 1,200 civilians.

Harvard claims there are no documents that satisfy the request.

“Given the publicly documented antisemitism on Harvard’s campus, especially since the October 7 attacks, it would be shocking if the Board of Overseers and Harvard Management Company thought protecting Harvard’s Jewish students was so insignificant that the topic was not worthy of discussion at a single meeting,” Foxx’s Feb. 7 memo stated.

“…Somehow, almost two months after the Committee first informed Harvard of its intent to request production of specific documents, and a month after the Committee provided particularized requests, Harvard provided only a single meaningful document to the Committee in its antisemitism investigation,” the letter stated.

The committee also seeks disciplinary records for antisemitism issues and documents and communications relating to the establishment of the President’s Task Force on Anti Semitism.

Harvard’s new antisemitism taskforce has drawn criticism due to co-chair Professor Derek Penslar’s history of anti-Israel comments.

As The College Fix also previously reported, in early January, President Claudine Gay resigned after facing plagiarism allegations and criticism for her statements to Congress about antisemitism, which were widely viewed as lackluster and apathetic.

The Ivy League school also has lost millions of dollars in donor support and is grappling with a lawsuit from Jewish students.

Harvard University’s media relations team did not respond to requests from The College Fix seeking comment.

Congresswoman Foxx’s media team referred The College Fix to her public statements on the matter.

Harvard is part of a string of investigations launched by the House committee over campus antisemitism concerns; others include the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.

MORE: Harvard antisemitism task force draws skepticism due to chair’s criticisms of Israel

IMAGE: Jan Yuan / Shutterstock

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Josiah Sullivan is a student at Clemson University majoring in political science. He spoke at the 2022, 2023 South Carolina Life Conference and has made appearances on the Palmetto Family podcast and at the Palmetto Women's Center yearly gala. Josiah is on senior staff for The Tiger.