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Chairman Smith Opening Statement – Hearing on the Crisis on Campus: Antisemitism, Radical Faculty, and the Failure of University Leadership

June 13, 2024

“Our investigation continues, but based on the evidence already gathered, we can easily see that many universities are failing their students by turning a blind eye to antisemitism.”

As prepared for delivery.

“Following Hamas’s horrific October 7th terrorist attack on Israel, antisemitism raged across the world, including on America’s college campuses. This Committee moved swiftly to investigate this spike in hate by holding a hearing just a few weeks after the attack.

“Over the last eight months, Americans have seen how the inaction of university leaders emboldened anti-Israel, anti-Jew, and anti-American radicals on college campuses. That inaction resulted in encampments springing up at many of America’s so-called elite universities and brought education at those institutions to a grinding halt. Students, faculty, and outside agitators stormed campus buildings and blocked entrances. Classes were disrupted or moved online. Long-awaited graduation ceremonies were canceled.

“Following this Committee’s hearing in November, we launched an investigation into several universities regarding their handling of violence and harassment of Jewish students on their campuses. The universities under investigation all failed to root out antisemitism and protect Jewish students on their campuses. 

“The Committee continues to receive evidence and first-hand accounts that schools are ignoring the concerns of Jewish students, failing to enforce campus policies, and refusing to discipline students found to have violated university rules and codes of conduct. 

“Just a few examples of such failures include: 

  • The failure of MIT to discipline students who violated campus policies simply because they were not Americans and were here on student visas.
  • The failure of Harvard to listen to the recommendations of its antisemitism advisory group, even though the committee identified ways Jewish students were being harassed.
  • The failure of Cornell to enforce real discipline on campus agitators who violated campus policies by repeatedly disrupting basic educational functions, including class and exams.
  • The failure of Penn to take meaningful disciplinary action against students and faculty who violated campus policies, including one student who stole an Israeli flag from a campus apartment, and the Faculty for Justice in Palestine blocking the entrance to campus.

“The Committee’s investigation has identified three key areas of concern:

  • First, is the fact that weak university leadership has repeatedly failed to protect students and focus on its actual mission of educating students.  
  • Second, is the role that radical faculty are playing in fueling, and in some cases taking part in violations of campus policy and law, on top of teaching concepts that fuel antisemitism and hatred.
  • Lastly, there is the role that international students are playing in antisemitic and dangerous protests on college campuses across the country.

“Our investigation continues, but based on the evidence already gathered, we can easily see that many universities are failing their students by turning a blind eye to antisemitism. Instead, they are caving to the demands of loud, hateful, and destructive detractors – often to the detriment of student safety, course work, class time, and academic success on campus. That is no way to fulfill an educational mission. 

“I’m glad that Speaker Johnson called for a collective House investigation to bolster this Committee’s efforts that started in November. House Republicans will continue to press universities to fulfill their tax-exempt purpose by changing course to regain control of campuses. 

“To the universities listening – if you think we will lose focus, interest, or forget about this, you couldn’t be more wrong. We will continue to use the tools of the Ways and Means Committee to protect Americans on college campuses from danger until university administrators grow a spine and start doing their jobs. 

“I want to thank each of our witnesses for being here, and I look forward to learning more about what is occurring on college campuses today and how the situation has evolved since our hearing in November.”