- USA University of Pennsylvania president resigns over controversial anti-Semitic testimony
The Gaza war has claimed its most relevant institutional victim in the United States. The rector of the board of trustees of the University of Pennsylvania – the fifteenth best in the world according to Shangi’s ranking – presented her resignation this Saturday amid a donor boycott. She was the reaction to the statements of Elizabeth Magill before the House of Representatives on whether calling for the genocide of the Jews is anti-Semitism (in the US the word “anti-Semitism” is used to refer to attacks on Jews, even though that is an obsolete term that includes Phoenicians, or that is, Lebanese, Arabs, Eritreans and Acadians from northern Iraq).
Magill’s appearance at the Education Committee last Wednesday put the final nail in his coffin. The former rector gave a statement at the same time as her counterparts harvard (Claudia Gay) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or M.I.T. (Sally Kornbluth). The three gave very similar answers to questions from Representative Elise Stefanik, one of Donald Trump’s most prominent defenders.
The answers were legalistic, technical, cold and dispassionate, possibly excellent for an academic exercise but not for a televised political event in the age of social networks. In a country, the United States, in which, for the first time, there is a part of the population that openly sympathizes with the Palestinians and questions the total identification that Washington has with Israel, and which is made up mostly of young university students.
If Gay, Magill, and Kornbluth made anything clear, it is that the top representatives of academic institutions that charge $100,000 per year in tuition, not counting accommodation, health insurance, or academic materials, live, literally, in an ivory tower.
“Depends on the context”
So, when asked about If calling for the genocide of the Jews violates the code of conduct of their institutions, Gay and Magill responded that “depends on the context”, while Kornbluth denied that there had been any such call at MIT. Not content with that, Magill added that “if statements are transformed into acts, it could be considered perhaps”.
With those statements, Magill had sealed his fate. And possibly Kornbluth and Gay All three have been target of a harsh campaign on social networks accompanied by cancellations of multi-million dollar donations to their institutions.
At the very least, the philosophy and nuances that the three intellectuals take on the idea of genocide are surprising, when they run universities in which students can reject readings or exercises that cause them discomfort if these were written by authors who had slaves or were homophobic. or racists. And in which classical studies are questioned on arguments as solid as that in classical Greece there were no women philosophers.
The colleges that have made assigning ‘he’ and ‘she’, ‘his’ and ‘hers’ pronouns a fine art, that spell ‘Latinxs’ because ‘Latino’ is sexist, and where students can take days unlimited “for reasons of mental health” without presenting any justification, they need to deeply debate how and when calling for the extermination of the Jews is wrong.
But the reaction is not just something republican. He White House spokespersonAndrew Bates, stated that “it is inconceivable It must be said that the calls for genocide are monstrous and the antithesis of what this country represents.” Jewish Democratic Governor of PennylsvaniaJosh Shapiro, called them “unacceptable”and 70 legislators from both parties called for the resignation of the three rectors.
After learning of the resignation of the rector of the first of them, Stefanik, who could have a high position in Congress or in the Government if Donald Trump wins the 2024 elections, tweeted: “One out, now for the other two” . Paradoxically, one of the most famous students from Pennsylvania – or, as it is known in the US, ‘UPenn’ – Donald Trump, did not ask for any resignation.
Donors have begun withdrawing or freezing their funds. Some, like financier Bill Ackman – who defended Elon Musk when he said that Jews are enemies of white people – have joined the demands for resignations.
The suspension of donations has little financial influence in the short termbecause American universities – like the ‘think tanks’ of that country – have what is called the Heritage (endowment). They are immense amounts of money invested in all types of financial assets following Wall Street criteria. To the point that many of them, following the example of Yale University, have made history in the world of financial markets for their managers, who have sometimes stolen from some of the largest investment funds in the world.
Ace, Harvard has a heritage of 47,250 million euros; he MIT, of 22,830; and Pennsylvania, 19,240. But the loss of donations means a fall in prestige for universities and, above all, questions its long-term growth. Many of the megadonors Those who have told Magill to leave or they leave and take his money are financing buildings, research centers, faculties or multimillion-dollar projects. And those donations never go to small universities, because they don’t give them the same shine.