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UPenn loses $100 mln grant over Magill's antisemitism testimony

UPenn loses $100 mln grant over Magill's antisemitism testimony Photo: Elizabeth Magill's Congressional testimony leads to $100 million grant loss for UPenn (Getty Images)

The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) lost a $100 million grant following President Elizabeth Magill's testimony before the US Congress, which sparked controversy over her handling of antisemitism on campus. This incident has led to increased scrutiny and criticism of university leaders, including the presidents of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), for their responses to questions about antisemitism during a congressional hearing, according to BBC.

The controversy began during a congressional hearing titled "Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism," where Elizabeth Magill, along with other university presidents, faced criticism for their vague answers to questions about handling antisemitism on campus.

This hearing was a response to increasing antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents in the United States, particularly amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza that started on October 7 with an attack by Hamas on Israel.

The hearing, led by Republican congresswoman Elise Stefanik, focused on hypothetical scenarios involving students calling for the genocide of Jews, to which the university presidents provided unclear responses. This led Ross Stevens, CEO of Stone Ridge Asset Management, to withdraw his $100 million donation to UPenn, expressing his dismay at Magill's avoidance of direct answers.

Campus controversy

The situation escalated with various political and academic figures weighing in. White House spokesperson Andrew Bates and Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro condemned the lack of clear denunciation of calls for genocide. Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe criticized Harvard President Claudine Gay's responses, and Republican politicians used this event to criticize elite institutions.

The House Committee on Education and the Workforce launched an investigation into these universities for not adequately addressing antisemitism, and there were calls for Magill's resignation, including from UPenn's Wharton Business School board.

In response, both Gay and Magill have pledged to hold accountable those threatening Jewish students, with Magill releasing an apology video clarifying the university's stance against calls for genocide.

Prominent figure

Mary Elizabeth Magill is an esteemed legal scholar and academic leader. She embarked on her career in politics before moving into law. She clerked for notable judicial figures and joined the University of Virginia School of Law faculty in 1997, later becoming its vice dean.

UPenn loses $100 mln grant over Magill's antisemitism testimonyMary Elizabeth Magill (Getty Images)

Magill served as the dean of Stanford Law School from 2012 to 2019, after which she returned to Virginia as provost. In 2022, she became the president of the University of Pennsylvania.

Antisemitism issue

Today, the topic of antisemitism is getting a lot of attention. Due to the Israel-Hamas war that is currently unfolding in the Gaza Strip, the international community is following any media statements on the subject. Regardless of their occupation and profession, many people get caught up in the scandal by expressing their position openly or unknowingly, making an ambiguous comment.

Recently, Elon Musk, owner of a social network formerly known as Twitter, sparked controversy by responding to a user's antisemitic post on the platform. The user's post accused the Jewish community of promoting "dialectical hatred" against white people. Max replied to this post, agreeing with its sentiment and stating, "You have said the actual truth."

This post caused a significant backlash among other social network users. Many criticized Max for his comment. Users expressed their disappointment, with some calling his remarks racist and antisemitic.