Republican presidential candidate and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley is threatening to nix the tax-exempt status of three top colleges after their leaders on Tuesday refused to state unequivocally that calling for the genocide of Jews violates their school harassment rules.
“The equivocation from these college presidents is disgusting,” Haley posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
The presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were chastised in Congress Tuesday for their responses to the rise in antisemitism on campus since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) asked each president if calling for the genocide of Jews violated their university’s bullying and harassment policies. The presidents generally said the speech could be investigated if it warranted it, but it would be a context-based decision.
Haley said that “calling for the genocide of Jews is no different than calling for genocide of any other ethnic, racial, or religious group.”
“As POTUS, this will end or we’ll pull their tax exempt status,” she said.
Each president used their speaking time in the hearing to highlight efforts their university has made to protect Jewish students, but their answers failed to satisfy lawmakers.
MIT President Sally Kornbluth said she has not heard of an incident on her campus where people have called for the genocide of Jews. She said antisemitic language would be investigated. UPenn President Liz Magill said “if the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment.” And Harvard President Claudine Gay said the speech could be considered harassment if it was targeted at an individual.
Visibly frustrated, Stefanik said their responses were unacceptable and called for Gay to resign.
In her opening statement, Gay said it is a difficult task balancing free speech and safety of students in these times and admitted she has not always gotten it right.
The Biden administration also denounced the remarks on Wednesday.
“It’s unbelievable that this needs to be said: Calls for genocide are monstrous and antithetical to everything we represent as a country,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said. “Any statements that advocate for the systematic murder of Jews are dangerous and revolting — and we should all stand firmly against them, on the side of human dignity and the most basic values that unite us as Americans.”