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Chairman Smith: Universities Enjoying Generous Tax-Exempt Status Must Detail Actions Taken to Protect Jewish Students and Provide Information on Foreign Sourced Funding

March 21, 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of an investigation into college and university responses to antisemitism targeting Jewish students on campuses that enjoy generous benefits through the U.S. tax code, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith (MO-08) demanded Cornell University, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the University of Pennsylvania detail what disciplinary action they have taken against students, administrators, faculty, or student organizations whose antisemitic activity violated campus policy.

“The focus of the Committee’s inquiry and questions is to understand what universities like yours are doing, if anything, to change course drastically and address what has gone unaddressed for years,” wrote Chairman Smith. “Doing so is essential to justifying the generous tax-exempt status that the American people have provided institutions like yours for decades. Why is antisemitism so deeply rooted in campus culture, including among student bodies, faculty members, and administrators? Why do purveyors of antisemitism feel so emboldened to spew hate and even engage in violence against their Jewish classmates? Why have there been so few consequences for conduct that clearly violates campus policies and sometimes even violates the law? This pervasive culture has created a hostile environment for Jews on campus. Public statements, slaps on the wrist, and symbolic gestures, while good and proper, are not sufficient to reverse what is clearly a systemic issue. Antisemitism not only exists on campus, but also thrives and puts Jewish students at risk. The moment calls for serious institutional change. That is what this Committee expects and that is what the American people expect from institutions that were designed to prepare and educate the next generation of leaders.”

In addition to details regarding disciplinary action taken against individuals and organizations on campus, the letters demand the four universities detail why they believe antisemitism has been allowed to flourish on their campuses, provide any drafts or final versions of statements concerning unprotected speech or violence, and disclose any donations or funding received from foreign sovereignties or governments.

These letters are the latest step in the Ways and Means Committee’s investigation into whether these universities have taken sufficient action to protect Jewish students on their campuses following the October 7th attack on Israel. In a letter to the same universities in January, Chairman Smith underlined the importance of protecting free speech while also stressing that once speech on campus crosses into unprotected threats and calls for violence, American universities’ failure to act calls into question whether they are fulfilling the educational purpose required of them to receive 501(c)3 tax-exempt status.

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