President Liz Magill said calls for genocide could be harassment, depending on context
A donor pulled a $100 million donation from the University of Pennsylvania following President Liz Magill’s denial before Congress that demands for Jewish genocide are always harassment.
New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik asked President Magill and the presidents of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in a Tuesday hearing whether calling for “intifada” and the genocide of Jews violates their campus policies.
Each president said it depends on the context.
In response, Penn alumni Ross Stevens, founder and CEO of Stone Ridge Asset Management, is withdrawing a gift from Penn worth approximately $100 million, meant to establish a “center for innovation in finance,” Axios reported Thursday.
Stevens’ lawyers wrote in a letter to Penn obtained by the news outlet that he and his company “are appalled by the University’s stance on antisemitism on campus.”
“Its permissive approach to hate speech calling for violence against Jews and laissez faire attitude toward harassment and discrimination against Jewish students would violate any policies of rules that prohibit harassment and discrimination based on religion, including those of Stone Ridge,” according to the letter.
On Thursday night, 1987 Penn graduate and former U.S. Ambassador John Huntsman Jr. called on the school’s board of trustees to remove Magill from her position.
Even more, Penn’s Wharton School of Business Board of Advisors “has joined the growing chorus of voices calling for Magill’s immediate ouster,” CNN reported Friday morning.
At an emergency meeting held Thursday, “Magill faced a rebellion from Wharton’s Board of Advisors,” according to CNN.
The Board of Advisors implied that Magill should be replaced in a letter sent directly to her and obtained by the news network.
“As a result of the University leadership’s stated beliefs and collective failure to act, our Board respectfully suggests to you and the Board of Trustees that the University requires new leadership with immediate effect,” the letter states.
“In light of your testimony yesterday before Congress, we demand the University clarify its position regarding any call for harm to any group of people immediately, change any policies that allow such conduct with immediate effect, and discipline any offenders expeditiously,” it reads.
In a video posted to X Wednesday appearing to walk back her statements at the hearing, Magill said she should have she should have acknowledged the “irrefutable fact”’ that a call for genocide against Jewish people is “evil” and “some of the most terrible violence human beings can perpetrate.”
“In my view, it would be harassment or intimidation,” she said.
When Congresswoman Stefanik asked Magill at Tuesday’s hearing whether calling for violence against Jews constitutes harassment, Magill said it could “if the speech turns into conduct,” according to The New York Times.
“I am asking, specifically calling for the genocide of Jews, does that constitute bullying or harassment,” Rep. Stefanik asked.
“If it is directed and severe or pervasive, it is harassment,” Magill said.
“So, the answer is yes,” Stefanik said.
“It is a context-dependent decision, Congresswoman,” the Ivy League president said.
Penn has faced criticism over the past several weeks for its response to the Israel-Hamas war. Billionaire Ronald Lauder, for whom the Lauder College House is named, announced he would be ceasing his donations due to what he saw as an unsatisfactory response to antisemitism.
President Magill has also faced criticism for her handling of a writer’s festival in September at Penn that featured people who have expressed anti-Israel sentiments, according to the student newspaper.
The Daily Pennsylvanian reported Magill and other University administrators released a statement in response to the criticism on Sept. 12, condemning antisemitism and emphasizing the university’s support of free speech.
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