House Republicans accuse Penn of “failing to address anti-Semitism on its campus”

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The Republican-led House Education Committee began its formal investigation into anti-Semitism at the University of Pennsylvania on Wednesday, which the committee called for after a dramatic December hearing in which three university presidents were questioned about allegations of anti-Semitism at their schools.

In a message In a joint letter to Penn’s interim president and the chair of the Board of Trustees, Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican and chairwoman of the committee, questioned the university’s “failure to address anti-Semitism on its campus.” The letter said there was a pattern of “deeply disturbing” events and “multiple incidents” of anti-Semitic vandalism and harassment at the school.

The letter said these incidents included anti-Israel groups dropping hate speeches on university buildings, including ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,’ and Penn employees receiving emails threatening violence against Jewish life on campus.

PHOTO: In this file photo dated December 8, 2023, students are seen on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

In this file photo dated December 8, 2023, students are seen on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Bloomberg via Getty Images, file

The committee gave Ben until February 7 to submit documents related to all “anti-Semitic acts or incidents” since January 1, 2021.

Likewise, the committee began its investigation into Harvard on January 9 by calling on the school to submit letters and documents relating to any and all anti-Semitic acts or incidents since January 1, 2021. Harvard’s deadline to provide these documents was Tuesday – and Fox. She expressed frustration at their submission, calling Harvard’s response to the investigation “grossly inadequate.”

A spokesperson for the committee told ABC News that alleged anti-Semitism incidents on the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard campuses began before the October 7 Hamas attack. That’s why, they said, they asked for documents going back far enough so the committee could conduct a thorough investigation.

“Rather than respond to the committee’s request in an objective manner, Harvard chose to present letters from nonprofit organizations and student handbooks, many of which are already publicly available,” Fox said in a statement. “This is unacceptable. Harvard must submit the remaining documents in a timely manner, or risk compulsory action.”

PHOTO: In this September 29, 2023, file photo, Rep. Virginia Foxx walks to the House floor for a vote at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

In this September 29, 2023, file photo, Representative Virginia Foxx walks to the House floor for a vote at the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images, FILE

The committee announced its investigations into the schools’ policies last month after the presidents of Harvard, Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology came under fire for their testimony during a Dec. 5 hearing on anti-Semitism. Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik, of New York State, pressed the presidents during the session, calling their testimony “morally bankrupt” and demanding their resignations.

Hours after the hearing, amid bipartisan backlash, including from prominent Democrats, Penn State President Liz Magill apologized for her response at the hearing in a video posted on the university’s website.

“I did not focus on the irrefutable fact, but I should have, that calling for the genocide of the Jewish people is calling for some of the most horrific acts of violence that human beings can commit,” Magill said. “It is evil — plain and simple.” in the video.

Since the hearing, Magill and Harvard University President Claudine Guy have resigned from their positions after mounting pressure.

PHOTO: In this December 5, 2023, file photo, Dr. Claudine Guy, President of Harvard University, and Liz Magill, President of the University.  From Pennsylvania, Dr. Pamela Nadel, professor at American University, and Dr. Sally Kornbluth, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, testify in Washington, D.C.

In this December 5, 2023, file photo, Dr. Claudine Guy, President of Harvard University, Liz Magill, President of the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Pamela Nadel, Professor of History and Jewish Studies at American University, and Dr. Sally Kornbluth, are shown. , president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, testifies before the House Education and Workforce Committee at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Kevin Deitch/Getty Images, file

The Harvard Foundation, one of the school’s governing boards, unanimously affirmed its support for Gay amid backlash over her responses at the congressional hearing.

“We stand unanimously in support of Chairman Jay,” the board said in December.

MIT supported Kornbluth after backlash following the hearing.

The committee is investigating MIT’s disciplinary policies and procedures, although the committee has not yet formally requested documents from that university.

The Education Commission said its investigation goes beyond “one leader.” More university investigations are expected this year.

ABC News has reached out to Penn for comment. They had not responded by the time the story was published.

This article originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

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