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House passes resolution calling on Harvard, MIT presidents to resign

Every Republican but one voted for the resolution, which passed 303-126, effectively splitting the Democratic caucus.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) asks a question during a House committee hearing about antisemitism on campus with the presidents of Harvard, Penn and MIT on Dec. 5, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of the Office of Rep. Stefanik.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) asks a question during a House committee hearing about antisemitism on campus with the presidents of Harvard, Penn and MIT on Dec. 5, 2023. Credit: Courtesy of the Office of Rep. Stefanik.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution on Wednesday evening calling on the presidents of Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to resign over their failure to condemn campus antisemitism.

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) introduced the bipartisan resolution with Reps. Jared Moskowitz (D-Fla.), Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.).

The resolution comes after a House committee probed the presidents of Harvard, MIT and the University of Pennsylvania last week about campus antisemitism. The three were asked whether calling for the genocide of Jews would violate their respective codes of conduct. All three said it would depend on the context, including whether the speech constituted harassment or bullying.

Penn president Liz Magill resigned on Saturday. Harvard’s board said on Tuesday that it would continue backing its president, Claudine Gay. (Today, Gay lit the first menorah candle at a Chanukah event on campus, the New York Post reported.)

The House resolution passed 303-126, with all but one Republican voting in favor. It effectively split the Democratic caucus, with 84 Democrats voting in favor, including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.).

Several Jewish Democrats were among those who opposed the bill, including Reps. Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.), Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Jamie Raskin (D-Md.).

Raskin said that while the college presidents’ answers were “overly legalistic” and “ethically tone-deaf,” a resolution calling for the resignation of the heads of private institutions would be unprecedented and overstepping the role of Congress.

“The passage of my resolution marks a historic bipartisan effort to stand for moral truth,” Stefanik wrote. “The world is watching as members from both sides of the aisle stand resolutely with the Jewish people to condemn antisemitism on university campuses and the morally bankrupt testimony of the Harvard, MIT and Penn university presidents during last week’s House Committee on Education and the Workforce hearing.”

“It is disappointing and revealing that 128 Democrats chose to vote against condemning antisemitism on college campuses, and the pathetic and abhorrent testimony of the university presidents,” she added.

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