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House Committee’s Harvard Antisemitism Investigation Expanded to House-Wide Probe

The House of Representatives said it was expanding the investigation into antisemitism on university campuses into a House-wide probe on Tuesday.
The House of Representatives said it was expanding the investigation into antisemitism on university campuses into a House-wide probe on Tuesday. By Camille G. Caldera
By Emma H. Haidar and Cam E. Kettles, Crimson Staff Writers

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said Republicans are expanding the House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s investigation into antisemitism on college and university campuses into a House-wide probe during a Tuesday press conference.

Johnson, flanked by the Republican leaders of several powerful House committees, vowed to hold university leaders accountable for “their failure to protect Jewish students.”

At the press conference, Education and the Workforce Committee Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) announced that representatives from Yale, UCLA, and the University of Michigan will testify in a May 23 committee hearing.

“American universities are officially put on notice that we have come to take our universities back,” Foxx said. “College is not a park for play-acting juveniles or a battleground for radical activists.”

The investigation into antisemitism on college campuses began just days after former Harvard President Claudine Gay controversial testimony before the committee about the University’s initial response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. The hearing heavily contributed to Gay’s resignation less than one month later.

While the committee has not called interim Harvard President Alan M. Garber ’76 before Congress as part of the investigation, he said he would agree to testify if asked in an April interview with The Crimson.

Harvard remains the only university to receive subpoenas from the committee, although it remains unclear whether the committee will fully enforce its demands. While Foxx said the committee would consider further action March 5, it has yet to do so.

Garber said the University is still in contact with the committee and is responding to requests for documents.

Harvard spokesperson Jason A. Newton wrote in a statement that “Harvard is committed to combating antisemitism and ensuring that our Jewish students, faculty, staff, and alumni know they are safe, valued, and embraced in our community.”

“University leaders have denounced antisemitism on our campus and made clear that we will continue to take actions to combat antisemitism in any form,” he added.

According to Stanley M. Brand, former general counsel to the House of Representatives, the expansion does not change much for Harvard as the committee deliberates on what to do next.

“The issue remains whether they seek to enforce any subpoenas and how they plan to overcome the legal hurdles to enforcing them,” Brand wrote in a statement.

“It is not uncommon to see these committees ‘gang tackling’ witnesses,” he added. “Part of that may reflect internal turf battles over committees attempting to assert jurisdiction and part of it may be a belief that more is better.”

At the conference, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said committees have been asked to investigate the universities’ federal funding. Scalise also suggested that funding could be in jeopardy over how universities have responded to pro-Palestine protests and encampments on their campuses.

At Harvard, pro-Palestine student protesters have occupied a large part of Harvard Yard since April 24. While more than 30 undergraduates have received letters requesting them to appear before the Harvard College Administrative Board ahead of possible disciplinary action, the group insists they will remain in the Yard until Harvard divests from Israel.

While much of the scrutiny has come from Republican-led house committees, Harvard has also faced scrutiny from Democratic legislators.

Rep. Jake D. Auchincloss ’10 (D-Mass.) demanded Harvard outline how it is addressing antisemitism on campus in a letter to Garber Tuesday morning, citing the University’s “F” grade on the Anti-Defamation League’s Campus Antisemitism Report Card.

“At a time when antisemitic incidents on campuses are at historic levels, administrators must adopt new policies to address this scourge, enforce existing codes of conduct, and re-center faculty and staff on the mission to educate critical thinkers able to engage in civil discourse,” Auchincloss wrote.

Out of the 85 universities included on the report, Harvard was one of 13 that received an “F” grade.

The ADL listed the Palestinian Solidarity Committee’s controversial Oct. 7 statement on the Hamas attack on Israel, the antisemitic cartoon shared by pro-Palestinian campus groups in February, and the Department of Education’s investigation into campus antisemitism as contributing factors to the rating.

The report said there was a high incidence of “severe antisemitic and anti-Zionist incidents” and “hostile anti-Zionist student groups” on campus. The ADL includes anti-zionism in its definition of antisemitism.

Auchincloss previously criticized Gay over her handling of antisemitism on campus. Following her administration’s initial response to Oct. 7, Auchincloss wrote that he was “ashamed” of his alma mater in a post on X.

“Harvard’s leadership has failed,” he wrote.

While Garber said that Harvard has cooperated with congressional inquiries into the University’s handling of antisemitism, he said that institutions of higher education across the country are under attack.

“I believe that the attacks on Harvard, for the most part, are attacks on higher ed, particularly attacks on our peer institutions,” Garber said.

“I think it’s very important to defend the principles that our universities stand behind,” he added.

—Staff writer Emma H. Haidar can be reached at emma.haidar@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @HaidarEmma.

—Staff writer Cam E. Kettles can be reached at cam.kettles@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @cam_kettles or on Threads @camkettles.

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