More ‘Spineless College Leaders’ Called To Testify as House Republicans Promise Crackdown on Campus Antisemitism

‘American universities are officially put on notice that we have come to take our universities back,’ Congresswoman Virginia Foxx says.

Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP
Police move in and make arrests on demonstrators at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Scott G Winterton/The Deseret News via AP

The House of Representatives is launching a broad crackdown on antisemitism on college campuses, Speaker Johnson announced on Tuesday, expanding the Committee on Education and the Workforce’s investigation of several elite schools into a Congress-wide effort.

Yale University, the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Michigan will appear at a hearing on their handling of campus antisemitism on May 23. That order, delivered by the chairwoman of the committee, Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, represents an escalation of Congressional scrutiny toward elite campuses, dozens of which are now home to anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian encampments.

“Mealy mouthed, spineless college leaders” are getting a sharp warning from Ms. Foxx, she said while standing next to Mr. Johnson and other Republican leaders: “Congress will not tolerate your dereliction of duty to your Jewish students. American universities are officially put on notice that we have come to take our universities back.”

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona is also raising the possibility that schools failing to clamp down on unlawful encampments, like Columbia University, could lose federal funding.

“If a school refuses to comply with Title VI, yes, we would remove federal dollars,” he told Senator Capito at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars discrimination based on shared ancestry, ethnic characteristics, or national origin.

Chaos seems to only be growing on Columbia’s campus. On Tuesday, student protesters are occupying a building near the campus’s South Lawn, Hamilton Hall. Dozens stormed the building overnight, smashing windows and raising a Palestinian flag. Columbia confirmed the occupation and warned students to stay away from campus today. 

The takeover comes after the university began suspending students who refused to leave a pro-Palestinian encampment on campus grounds by the university’s Monday deadline. Representatives of the student coalition running the encampment, Columbia University Apartheid Divest, subsequently called on protesters there to “see how much of this campus we can reclaim.” 

Protesters have “taken matters into their own hands,” according to a statement posted by student groups early on Tuesday, and plan to remain in Hamilton Hall until Columbia divests financially from Israel. Mr. Cardona said he does not have staff monitoring the situation at Columbia right now when Ms. Capito asked him that question at the Tuesday hearing.

Columbia is but the most dramatic example of demonstrations that have grown increasingly violent and disruptive in the last week. The main graduation ceremony was canceled at the University of Southern California following campus protests demanding that the university divest from Israel. A Palestinian flag was hoisted at Harvard’s university hall where the American flag typically flies. 

University administrations are struggling to tame student unrest that could be violating federal civil rights protections. At least  that’s the case in overwhelmingly blue states. After encampments surfaced at the University of Florida and Florida State University, Governor DeSantis is warning students they could be expelled if they engage in unsanctioned protests. 

Governor Abbott called in Texas state troopers to arrest more than 50 protesters at the University of Texas at Austin this week. That crackdown, it’s worth noting, is happening at publicly-funded universities, even though they have more protections in place for student protesters than private universities like Columbia. 

Mr. Johnson and some other Republican lawmakers have been calling on Mr. Cardona to cut off federal funds of colleges and universities overrun by antisemitic protesters. Ms. Foxx, who visited campus with Mr. Johnson last week, tells the Sun that her house education committee could move to pull from Columbia and other universities federal grants that help cover their financial aid programs. 

The New York Sun

© 2024 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use