update deskSchools & Higher Education

MIT ‘intellectual, moral bankruptcy’ on Jew-hatred, House chair says

MIT “has demonstrated a clear double standard in how it has tolerated antisemitic harassment and intimidation,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) wrote.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, signs a March 8, 2024 letter to MIT alongside Jewish MIT graduate student  Talia Khan. Credit: House Education and the Workforce Committee.
Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, signs a March 8, 2024 letter to MIT alongside Jewish MIT graduate student Talia Khan. Credit: House Education and the Workforce Committee.

Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, wrote to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Friday expressing “grave concerns” about the highly-ranked school’s inaction protecting Jews amid rising antisemitism.

Foxx addressed the letter to Sally Kornbluth, the MIT president, and Mark Gorenberg, chair of the MIT Corporation. Kornbluth was one of three university presidents who testified before the committee on Dec. 5. The other two, then the presidents of Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania, have since stepped down. Claudine Gay, of Harvard, also faced allegations of extensive plagiarism.

“MIT has cited its supposed commitment to free speech as limiting its ability to take action against antisemitism on its campus. However, the institute has demonstrated a clear double standard in how it has tolerated antisemitic harassment and intimidation,” Foxx wrote.

“MIT’s hypocrisy and selective enforcement of institute rules,” she added, which “exposes the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of its leadership’s rationalizations for their inaction towards antisemitism on campus.”

Foxx noted survey data suggesting that 59% of Jewish students at MIT experienced Jew-hatred since Oct. 7, and 73% reported feeling uncomfortable identifying publicly as Jewish, Israeli or pro-Israel on the school’s campus.

The committee chair asked MIT to provide it with all written materials since Jan. 1 related to Jew-hatred on campus or disciplinary action initiated or taken toward students, faculty, staff or others related to targeting “Jews, Israelis, Israel, Zionists or Zionism.”

She also asked for all written materials since Jan. 1 that relate to antisemitism or Israel that relate to the MIT Corporation or the offices of the university’s president or provost, or its student life division, equity office or police, and that relate to Qatari funding of MIT.

Foxx requested the items by 5 p.m. Eastern on March 22.

On Thursday, StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice and two MIT students filed a federal lawsuit against MIT.

“Plaintiffs allege that MIT’s administration has evaded accountability and continues to support antisemitism on its campus, with little to no repercussions for students violating campus policies,” stated Yael Lerman, director of the center. 

“We are joining with two courageous Jewish students, who will not stay silent while MIT discriminates against them in violation of federal law,” Lerman added.

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