MIT Is Next on Congress’ List as It Investigates Antisemitism at Elite Universities

If MIT fails to comply with Congress’s documentation request, it will risk the same fate of Harvard, which was subpoenaed for information over the issue.

AP/Mark Schiefelbein
The president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sally Kornbluth, during a hearing of the House Committee on Education on Capitol Hill, December 5, 2023. AP/Mark Schiefelbein

Et tu, MIT?

A House committee has already subpoenaed Harvard’s top leaders and demanded documentation from Columbia as part of an unprecedented inquiry into antisemitism at elite universities. Now, it’s throwing the spotlight at yet another top school, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for its alleged failure to protect its Jewish students.

“We have grave concerns regarding the inadequacy of MIT’s response to antisemitism on campus,” the House Committee on Education and the Workforce said in a letter sent on Friday to MIT’s president, Sally Kornbluth, and the chairman of the school’s corporation, Mark Gorenberg. Since October 7, the school has been engulfed by anti-Israel and pro-Palestine protests, which have taken up campus buildings, disrupted the educational experience, and targeted Jewish students. 

Ms. Kornbluth was the only one out of the three university presidents to remain in her post after they testified before the Committee in December on the issue of antisemitism. Amid national outcry over what many deemed a damning testimonial performance, Penn’s president, Liz Magill, resigned the next week. Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, lasted another month. 

Great Dome at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The Great Dome at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Mys_721tx via Wikimedia Commons

Yet MIT’s board quickly expressed their “full and unreserved support” for Ms. Kornbluth in a statement endorsing her leadership. That show of support could come crumbling down at the hands of the committee, led by Congresswoman Virginia Foxx.

She told the Sun she has made it her mission to hold elite universities accountable for surging antisemitism which she says is undermining their reputations for academic excellence — even if means suspending federal grant money.

“The MIT Corporation’s assessment stands at odds with the experiences of many Jewish students,” the committee asserts. 59 percent of Jewish students on campus have experienced antisemitism since October 7, according to a campus survey cited in the letter. Before Hamas’s attacks, 89 percent of Jewish students felt “very safe” on campus. Now, only 11 percent do. Many have stopped wearing their kippahs or Stars of David.

Representative Virginia Foxx after the House of Representatives failed to elect a new speaker, October 18, 2023.
Representative Virginia Foxx at Washington, October 18, 2023. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Ms. Foxx is asking MIT to provide years of internal documentation, including private communications between its top leaders, all reports of antisemitic incidents on campus, and any evidence of foreign donations to the university — namely, from Qatar. If the university’s general counsel fails to comply with the request, MIT will likely face the same stern warnings Ms. Foxx issued to Harvard, which ultimately received subpoenas for information.

The committee continues to be dissatisfied with Harvard’s cooperation and is still considering what punitive measures to take. 

Many of the 2,500 pages Harvard has submitted to the committee since it was informed of the investigation in December are duplicates of documents already submitted and have “heavy redactions,” rendering the files “useless,” Ms. Foxx said in a statement on Tuesday. 

In light of the university’s “arrogance, ineptness, or indifference,” she warned, “the Committee is weighing an appropriate response.”

The New York Sun

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